We had a young friend in our compound recently, asking if he could have the netto seeds from our trees. The Netto is also known as the African Locust Bean tree, (Parkia biglobosa) a large savanna tree of about 20m high. Sometimes it’s called the Monkey Cutlass tree from the size and shape of the fruits. Musa and his sister spent about three hours climbing trees and knocking down the clumps of ‘beans’, then gathering them up for transportation via donkey cart back to their compound. The hard work then begins! First the beans are shelled, the yellow flour-like substance is saved in a container and then is pounded to remove the seeds. It has a bland taste and a floury texture ( I have tried it). I understand from our friend that the flour is often given to babies as a first food. It is a carbohydrate which is either used on its own, or mixed in with other foods for substance. The seeds are also used in cooking.
There are other uses for the beans. The outer cover is an insect repellant, and the seeds and flour are used as medicine for toothache, sore eyes, burns and fever amongst other things.