Monday, July 15, 2024

Barrelfuls of morula fruit going to waste despite Business Botswana research

An Ipelegeng workday, especially in Gaborone, is incomplete without some of the workers whittling firewood from semi-dry branches of felled trees near the work area. The people collecting firewood this way are never interested in fallen morula fruit. They should be because according to study done by the Private Sector Development Programme (PSDP) under Business Botswana, dry morula nut stones can be used as firewood. That is what people in the north central regions of Namibia use the nut for after removing the kernels from it. Using nuts in that manner would also yield environmental benefits in that the nuts would lessen the cutting down of trees for firewood.

It is not just the Ipelegeng workers who can benefit from morula nuts that are going to waste. The PSDP study shows that whereas a morula tree and its products have only six uses on average in Botswana, in north central Namibia there are many more uses. In the latter region, the fruit and kernel are used to make wine, juice, cooking oil, cake, porridge, animal feed, cosmetic oil and jam. The tree itself is used for firewood as well as to make housing/fencing poles and wooden utensils. Its leaves, branches, roots and bark are used as medicine and edible caterpillars and larvae are harvested from it. The shelf life of the wine made from morula in Botswana is very short ÔÇô only a couple of days. On the other side of another border, that wine can last up to one year depending on how it is stored. In the Limpopo province in South Africa, harvesters make a much stronger wine called nhlowa which, for an undisclosed reason, is usually drunk over the Easter holiday period.

However, there are practical question that has to be answered. How is an Ipelegeng worker, who wouldn’t have gone too far with his/her schooling, supposed to know about PSDP studies? There is an even bigger problem: local research, whatever its quality and usefulness, doesn’t always reach people it can benefit the most. That is because Botswana has not been successful in creating a research-field-to-public-domain information pipeline. When the UN agency in charge of climate change published its report five years ago, a good number of University of Botswana lecturers had contributed research that the international body thought useful enough to include in the report. However, such research findings (even those relating to cattle farming) had never been published locally. In the particular case of Ipelegeng workers benefitting from Business Botswana research, village development committees could perhaps have created channels to business organisations and universities but they remain fixated on village politics.


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