A Chinese farmer who has called Botswana home for over two decades has opened Botswana’s first moringa products manufacturing business called Moringa Technology Industry (MTI).
Registered in 2014, the business which is currently in the process of producing samples of moringa tea, juice, powder and tablets among other products to be submitted to the Botswana Bureau of Standards (BOBS) for approval and certification, looks forward to exhibiting its products at the country’s tenth edition of Global Expo Botswana, themed ‘seizing opportunities through networking with global business leaders’.
Benni Motshwasele, the Moringa Technology Industry, Managing Director believes the four day event that will kick off on October 30, 2018 will give them the exposure they need to sensitive locals and foreigners on the availability of their products. “The plan is to eventually distribute the products to all retailers, wholesalers and pharmacies across the country. Once the local demand is met, we will export,” said Motshwasele.
MTI’s holistic production capacity is still to be tasted, however, with the ability to produce 30 bags of tea leaves per minute, and potentially make 3000 noodle bags weighing 500g each per day, Motshwasele is confident they will be able to meet local demand and export. The Moringa Technology Industry boasts of over 14 state of the art, China, custom made machinery.
“I have invested millions into the business,” said Hu Yan, who is the Founder of Moringa Technology Industry. “I have had to buy cars, I hired labour – not just for the workstation but for the actual farming of the trees because we grow our own trees here, I have also invested in seeds – planting 10 000 seedlings, and in building the space we manufacture in from scratch,” said Hu.
After five years of working behind the scenes, Hu is happy to share his dream with Botswana and the rest of the world. “I could not have accomplished this without Jamali’s help. He allowed me to use his land. He believed in me, that the idea would work,” he said. Business mogul Sayed Jamali, came to Hu’s rescue after partnerships with two different locals failed. Nevertheless Hu is still advocating for moringa tree farming by Batswana, as he believes citizens have a lot to benefit from this untapped industry.
Hu Yan’s business is located in the outskirts of Tlokweng village. Given the fact that Botswana is a semi-arid country with unpredictable rainfall, Hu believes moringa is one plant that can help Botswana eradicate poverty. In October last year after partnering with Sayed Jamali, Hu planted 10,000 seedlings at the Tlokweng farm. After three months, most of the trees had grown to over three meters long. Subsequent to that he packaged several product samples and took them to the former President of Botswana for appreciation and approval.
“I plan to export to China, America and Europe. This tree cannot grow in those countries because of freezing weather conditions,” he said. Hu’s Moringa Technology Industry has since employed seven people – two women and five men. The company plans on hiring more people after certification by BOBS.
“We hire everyone. Educational background and experience is not a requirement to us as we have never had the moringa business being done this way in Botswana. We teach our own employees how to plough moringa and how to eventually process it into finished products,” said Benni Motshwasele.
To ensure that products are up to competitive standards, MTI has taken all necessary steps to equip its employees with hygiene and food handling skills. All this is done while ensuring that safety precautions in the workplace are adhered to. “We have since equipped all our employees with first aid skills,” he said, stressing MTI’s desire to empower the youth.
Moringa is a versatile plant whose every part can be eaten or used as ingredients in traditional herbal medicines. Its leaves are an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals such as protein, vitamin B6, Vitamin C, Iron, riboflavin (B2), vitamin A (from beta-carotene) and Magnesium. The pods are lower in vitamins and minerals, but they are rich in vitamin C.
The plant that is native to North India is rich in various antioxidants. These include quercetin and chlorogenic acid. The moringa leaf powder that MTI is also going to produce can increase blood antioxidant levels, and can lower cholesterol levels, potentially reducing the risk of heart disease.
While there is no hard-and-fast rule in politics, former Molepolole North Member of Parliament, Mohamed Khan says populism acts in the body politic have forced him to quit active partisan politics. He brands this ancient ascription of politics as fake and says it lowers the moral compass of the society.
Khan who finally tasted political victory in the 2014 elections after numerous failed attempts, has decided to leave the ‘dirty game’, and on his way out he characteristically lashed at the current political leaders; including his own party president, Advocate Duma Boko. “I arrived at this decision because I have noticed that there are no genuine politics and politicians. The current leaders, Boko and President Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi are fake politicians who are just practicing populist politics to feed their egos,” he said.
Former Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) parliamentary hopeful, Lawrence Ookeditse has rejected the idea of taking up a crucial role in the Botswana Patriotic Front (BPF) Central Committee following his arrival in the party this week. According to sources close to development, BPF power brokers are coaxing Ookeditse to take up the secretary general position, left vacant by death of Roseline Panzirah-Matshome in November 2020.
Ookeditse’s arrival at BPF is projected to cause conflicts, as some believe they are being overlooked, in favour of a new arrival. The former ruling party strategist has however ruled out the possibility of serving in the party central committee as secretary general, and committed that he will turn down the overture if availed to him by party leadership.
Ookeditse, nevertheless, has indicated that if offered another opportunity to serve in a different capacity, he will gladly accept. “I still need to learn the party, how it functions and all its structures; I must be guided, but given any responsibility I will serve the party as long as it is not the SG position.”
“I joined the BPF with a clear conscious, to further advance my voice and the interests of the constituents of Nata/Gweta which I believe the BDP is no longer capable to execute.” Ookeditse speaks of abject poverty in his constituency and prevalent unemployment among the youth, issues he hopes his new home will prioritise.
He dismissed further allegations that he resigned from the BDP because he was not rewarded for his efforts towards the 2019 general elections. After losing in the BDP primaries in 2018, Ookeditse said, he was offered a job in government but declined to take the post due to his political ambitions. Ookeditse stated that he rejected the offer because, working for government clashed with his political journey.
He insists there are many activists who are more deserving than him; he could have chosen to take up the opportunity that was before him but his conscious for the entire populace’s wellbeing held him back. Ookeditse said there many people in the party who also contributed towards party success, asserting that he only left the BDP because he was concerned about the greater good of the majority not individualism purposes.
According to observers, Ookeditse has been enticed by the prospects of contesting Nata/Gweta constituency in the 2024 general election, following the party’s impressive performance in the last general elections. Nata/Gweta which is a traditional BDP stronghold saw its numbers shrinking to a margin of 1568. BDP represented by Polson Majaga garnered 4754, while BPF which had fielded Joe Linga received 3186 with UDC coming a distant with 1442 votes.
There are reports that Linga will pave way for Ookeditse to contest the constituency in 2024 and the latter is upbeat about the prospects of being elected to parliament. Despite Ookeditse dismissing reports that he is eying the secretary general position, insiders argue that the position will be availed to him nevertheless.
Alternative favourite for the position is Vuyo Notha who is the party Deputy Secretary General. Notha has since assumed duties of the secretariat office on the interim basis. BPF politburo is expected to meet on 25th of January 2020, where the vacancy will be filled.
Botswana Democratic Party (BDP) big wigs have decided to cancel a retreat with the party legislators this weekend owing to increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases. The meeting was billed for this weekend at a place that was to be confirmed, however a communique from the party this past Tuesday reversed the highly anticipated meeting.
“We received a communication this week that the meeting will not go as planned because of rapid spread of Covid-19,” one member of the party Central Committee confirmed to this publication. The gathering was to follow the first of its kind held late last year at party Treasurer Satar Dada’s place.