The Shepherd tree or Boscia albitrunca, known as Motlopi in Setswana is an evergreen tree indigenous to Southern Africa.
In Botswana, the tree is common in the Kgalagadi areas, where it is an important source of forage. Throughout the region, Motlopi serves many purposes that some are not even aware of. It is often called a tree of life because of its various uses such as food for people, soil conservation and fodder for livestock during periods of famine.
For Dinah Bota, who hails from Kolonkwaneng village, some 96 kilometers from Tsabong, the tree is literally a source of life.
While the Motlopi tree can be used for medicinal and ornamental purposes, Bota sells coffee she prepares from it (the tree).
She explains that she was taught how to make the coffee by her late grandmother but stayed long without doing it at home, until she heard people complaining about their sickness and doctors cancelling them from drinking coffee as it have caffeine.
“Motlopi coffee is natural and caffeine free. It’s suitable for all ages and even though I do not have much market, as I am based at Kgalagadi I sell very well wherever I go in our country. Women are my main customers and I hear that it is very good for period pains, sugar diabetes and high blood pressure,” says Bota.
She says in 2007 unnamed social worker at the Kgalagadi District helped her to take her product to the National Food Technology Research Centre to be inspected for possible packaging and selling.
The product was later approved to be good for health.
Bota further explains that it is not really complicated to make Motlopi coffee, you can either drink it black or with milk, she further said.
Bota explained that the challenge she faces when processing the coffee is the stress and workload that comes with it, more especially when digging the roots. She said that a lot of people do not stay for long when she hires them to assist because it is exhausting, so she has her 2 siblings assisting her at the moment.
Bota’s immediate challenge is however the failure to get the Motlopi coffee into local retail shops. She is yet to get a bar code of r the product.
“However my coffee has manufacturing date and the expiry date. I pray that God help me do the bar code as by then I will be able to supply it to other shops,” Bota added.
Bar code aside, Bota intends to grow his coffee business and be able to participate even in global coffee market with the likes of Starbucks.
When giving advice to budding entrepreneurs Bota says, “Take advantage of the enormous opportunities the information age presents. You have everything you need to go make something meaningful. Something you deeply care about. You do not have to be right when you start. But it matters that you begin.”