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.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Lemogang Kwape says Botswana has not taken any position regarding the killing of a renowned human rights lawyer, Thulani Maseko, who was gunned down at his house in Mbabane, Eswatini.
In a brief interview with WeekendPost, Dr Kwape said Botswana has not yet taken any position regarding his death. He said the purported incident should be thoroughly probed before Botswana can form an opinion based on the findings of the inquiries.
â€śBotswana generally condemns any killing of human life by all means,â€ť says Dr. Kwape. He wouldnâ€™t want to be dragged on whether Botswana will support the suspension of Eswatini from SADC.
â€śWe will be guided by SADC organ Troika if they can be an emergency meeting. I am not sure when the meeting will be called by Namibian president,â€ś he said.
However, the Namibian president Hage Geingob notes with deep concern reports coming out of Eswatini about the killing of Mr. Maseko. In a statement, he called upon the â€śGovernment of the Kingdom of Eswatini to ensure that the killing of Maseko is swiftly, transparently and comprehensively investigated, and that any or all persons suspected of committing this heinous crime are brought to justice.â€ť
Maseko was chairperson of the Multi-Stakeholder Forum which was established as a coalition of non-State actors to advocate for a process of national political dialogue aimed at resolving the security and political challenges confronting the Kingdom.
â€śSADC expresses its deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Mr. Maseko, his friends, colleagues, and to the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini for the loss of Mr. Maseko. In this context, SADC further calls upon the people of the Kingdom of Eswatini to remain calm, exercise due care and consideration whilst the appropriate structures conduct the investigations and bring the matter to completion,â€ť the statement says.
Geingob reiterated the need for peaceful resolution of the political and security challenges affecting the country.
Meanwhile political activists are calling on SADC to suspend Eswatini from the block including the African Union as well.
State prosecutor, Seeletso Ookeditse revealed before the Broadhurst Magistrate Jobbie Moilatshimo that the third accused involved in the murder of Barulaganye Aston, has interfered with the State witnesses again.
The second and third accused (Lefty Kosie and Outlwile Aston) were previously accused of interference when they were caught in possession of cellphones in prison. They were further accused of planning to kill the deceasedâ€™s brother, who is currently the guardian to the children of the deceased.
Ookeditse indicated that Outlwile had earlier went to challenge the magistrateâ€™s decision of denying him bail at the High Court before Judge Michael Motlhabi.
â€śThe third accused approached the High Court and made a bail application, which was dismissed on the same day,â€ť Ookeditse said.
However, even after the High Court verdict on their bail application, the duo (Kosie and Aston) has once again applied for bail this week.
Ookeditse plead with the court to stop the accused from abusing the court process.
â€śYesterday, Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) received papers of his bail application filed before the Broadhurst Magistrates Court. However, the papers do not speak to changed circumstances, therefore this back and forth about bail must be put to a stop,â€ť said the State prosecutor.
While giving evidence before court, the Investigations Officer, Detective Inspector Quite Zhalamonto, said his investigations have proved that there is interference continuing regarding the accused trio.
He told the court that on the 12thÂ of January 2023, he received a report from Thato Aston, who is the son of the accused and the deceased. The son had alleged to the Investigation Officer that he received a call from one Phillip Molwantwa.
According to Zhalamonto, Thato revealed that Molwatwa indicated that he was from prison on a visit to the Outlwile Aston and went on to ask where he was staying and where his siblings (Astonâ€™s children) are staying.
â€śThato revealed that Phillip went on to ask if he or his siblings saw their father murdering their mother, and he was referring to the crime scene. Thato told me that he, however, refused to answer the questions as he was afraid especially because he was asked about where him and his siblings stay,â€ť said Zhalamonto.
Zhalamonto alluded to the court that he then went to Orange to confirm the communication between Thato and Molwantwa where he found the case.
â€śI have arrested Philip yesterday and when I interviewed him, he did not deny that he knows Aston and that he has indeed called Thato and asked questions as to where him and his siblings resides even though he failed to give reasons for asking such questions,â€ť Zhalamonto told the court.
He further revealed that Molwantwa indicated that he had received a call from an unknown man who refused to reveal himself.
â€śPhillip told me that the unknown man said he was sent by the accused (Aston), and that Aston had instructed him to tell me to check if there was still some money in his bank accounts, and he also wanted to know where the kids were residing, the unknown man even asked him to meet at Main Mallâ€ť the Investigation Officer told the court.
He further informed the court that he is working tirelessly to identify the â€śunknown callerâ€ť and the route of the cell number.
Furthermore, the fourth accused,Â Kebaleboge Ntsebe, has revealed to the court through a letter that she was abused and tortured by the Botswana Police Services. She wrote in her letter that she suffered miscarriage as a result of being beaten by the police.
Ntsebe is on bail, while a bail ruling for Aston and Kosie will be delivered on the 6thÂ of next month
Cattle farmers from Eretsha and Habu in the Ngamiland district, supported by the Community Based Trade (CBT) project, recently generated over P300 000.00 for sales of 42 cattle to the Botswana Meat Commission (BMC) in Maun. This milestone was achieved through support from various stakeholders in conservation, commodity-based trade and the government, in collaboration with farmers. Ordinarily, these farmers would not have made this direct sale since the area is a designated Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) Red Zone.
Traditional livestock farming contributes toward livelihoods and formal employment in the North-West District (Ngamiland) of Botswana. However, primarily due to the increase in FMD outbreaks over the past two decades and predation by wildlife, the viability of livestock agriculture as a source of income has declined in the region. This has led to a greater risk of poverty and food insecurity. Access across the Okavango River (prior to the construction of a bridge) restricted access for farmers in Eretsha. This lack of access hampered sales of cattle beyond Shakawe, further discouraging farmers from investing in proper livestock management practices. This resulted in negative environmental impacts, poor livestock health and productivity.
To address this challenge, farmers are working with a consortium led by Conservation International (CI), with funding secured from the European Union (EU) to pilot a CBT beef project. The project focuses on supporting and enabling communal farmers to comply with standards and regulations that will improve their chances to access markets. An opportunity to earn higher income from cattle sales could incentivize the adoption of restorative rangelands management practices by farmers.
â€śWe spend a lot of money getting our cattle to Makalamabedi quarantine site, the herder spends on average two months taking care of the cattle before they are taken into quarantine â€“ that needs money. All these costs lead to us getting less money from BMC,â€ť said one of the farmers in the programme, Mr Monnaleso Mosanga.
Farmers that participate in the project agree for their cattle to be herded and kraaled communally by fulltime professional herders (eco-rangers). At the core of this pilot is the use of predator-proof bomas (cattle kraals), planned grazing systems and mobile quarantine bomas (electrified enclosures) for the cattle, facilitated in support with the Department of Veterinary Services. The first successful exit from the mobile quarantine bomas in the Habu and Eretsha villages, in December 2022, saw cattle quarantined on-site and directly transported to BMC in Maun. Farmers received almost double the average sales within this region, as costs including transportation to quarantine sites, herderâ€™s fees and other associated costs incurred before qualifying for BMC sales were no longer included.
“This pilot mobile quarantine is leveraging the techniques and protocols we are using at our current permanent quarantine sites, and we are still observing the results of the project. The outcome of this pilot will be presented to the World Organisation of Animal Health to assess its effectiveness and potentially be approved to be used elsewhere,â€ť said Dr Odireleng Thololwane, the Principal Veterinary Officer (Maun).