Bitter Kola otherwise known as Garcinia Kola is a highly sought after product in the international market, in countries like China, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, and many other Asian countries.
It is exported in different forms – wet, dried or powdered – depending on the specification of the buyer.
Bitter kola is a medium sized forest tree found throughout West and Central Africa, also found in large quantities in South, East and Western States of Nigeria. It is a wonderful agricultural product with a wide range of applications in natural and orthodox medicine. Bitter kola is also used for brewery purposes and that has been the reason why bitter kola is demanded in small and in large quantities by the international market.
The seed is eaten as refreshment. Mastication of bitter kola relieves coughs, hoarseness, bronchial and throat troubles. It is said to be a remedy for dysentery, osteoarthritis, antidote against poisoning and considered aphrodisiac.
Considerable experimental evidence has been adduced to support its chemical constituents against several ailments in the community, including malaria. “We extracted its chemical constituents, which is called Kolaviron and when it was tested on malaria parasite, we found it had significant anti-malarial activity,” says Professor Olusegun Ademowo, a researcher at the Institute for Advanced Medical Research and Training, College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, South West of Nigeria. “What we are now trying to find out is the right dosage of its extract that would be required in treating malaria. Also, we are looking at what other effects its use will have on the human cells. But at the moment it is in the preliminary stage,” he added.
Researchers also reported that bitter kola had anti-malaria effect in the 2010 issue of Journal of Medicinal Plants Research, from a survey of plants used by traditional healers in the Democratic Republic of Congo attributing this to its quinines content.
In 1999, a group of researchers in Kinshasa, Congo, attested to why people should consider feeding more on bitter kola to ward of malaria. Under laboratory conditions, they found that extracts from bark, stem and seed of bitter kola tree inhibit the growth of malaria parasite (Plasmodium falciparum) by at least 60 percent at a low concentration of 6 mg/ml.
Interestingly, Nigerian researchers have also developed herbal cures for malaria that can take care of resistant strains from a cocktail from local plants that include bitter kola. A typical cocktail developed by a plant taxonomist at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN) and Ebonyi State University, Professor Jonathan Okafor, consists of Morinda lucida (commonly called local cinchona or Brimstone tree.), Nauclea latifolia, lemon grass, male pawpaw leaves, Moringa oleifera (drumstick tree), mango bark, bitter kola and guava leaves and bark.
Obierofu claimed that he has successfully used the concoction for the last 18 years to treat malaria and hopes to start producing it in commercial quantities.
For bitter kola to meet export standard, it may require some processing which can be achieved without the use of any machinery or equipment as this can be done in a natural way. Prospective exporters can enter the business either in a small or big way. It depends on the cash at hand and requirement of the buyers. Small scale exporters can start the business right from their bedroom with just a functional e-mail address. It is neither a perishable good nor is it fragile.
Exporters are assured that the products will get to the buyer safely. But there is the need for an efficient method of quality control in order to keep it fresh and healthy looking.
The basic mode of exporting bitter kola is via air cargo. It is assumed that it will get to the destination in less than 4 days. This ensures that the product doesn’t spend much time in transit thereby resulting in the loss of quality and content.
The packaging method used in bitter kola export business is easy and can be learned by anybody.
You can export as little as 150kg as a trial order. The cost of bitter Kola in the international market is between $17 and $25 per kg. That transforms into well over $17,000/MT. The local cost of bitter kola ranges between N600 to N800 per kg, depending on the point of purchase.
Other advantages of processed bitter kola for export include: Low start up and operational cost; business can be operated from home; huge profitability; business is risk free; easy access to cheap sources of the products; easy access to overseas markets and buyers; and simple processing and packaging.