Monday, January 17, 2022

Local community development trust wins morula oil contract for export to the US market

The Kgetsi ya Tsie Community Development Trust (KYTCDT), which is run by women in the Tswapong district, central Botswana, has been offered a contract to produce 500 kg of morula oil for export to the lucrative US international cosmetic market by July 2014, due to its discerning fragrance.

This is according to the April 2014 edition of the Kalahari Conservation Society (KCS) newsletter.
According to the newsletter, the contract is aimed at, amongst others, building capacity and maintaining supply of the user friendly morula oil through support of funding bodies and support organizations such as the two USAID funded Southern Africa Regional Environmental Program (SAREP) and Resilience in the Limpopo Basin Program (RESILIM).

The Kalahari Conservation Society (KCS) would also facilitate the project. The morula oil contract is a classic example of a community based natural resource management (CBNRM) project in Botswana, which encourages sustainable and environmentally friendly tapping of natural resources by the community. Through this initiative, benefitting communities will be more committed to protecting and conserving the environment. The contract will also build their resilience against climate change while deriving sustainable income from their environment.

According to Masego Mmipi, KYTCDT Coordinator, products derived from morula are especially well placed, not only because for centuries farmers have protected morula trees due to their beneficial effects on soil health, but also due to the fact that they are expected to flourish in the face of extreme climate change regime temperatures.

“The ultimate goal of producing morula oil is to improve the socio-economic opportunities of women in the Tswapong area. This project is beneficial to my family as well, though initially I had to learn ardently the oil extraction process,” she said.

The morula oil extraction process begins after peeling off of the morula fruit pulp for making sweets and juices. The seeds are dried in pans until the kernels can be removed from the stones and pressed to release the precious oil. The term stone is used for the benefit of people with nut allergies. RESILIM chief scientist and technical supervisor of the morula oil project, Dr. Nkobi Mpho Molele, said the main challenge is to meet demand, given the increasing demand for natural products over synthetics.

“We need to capacitate and ready the communities to penetrate the insatiable market. What gives these projects distinction is their tangible outcomes on the ground and climate change adaptability in a changing environment,” she said.

The morula oil project has provided win-win opportunities for enterprising women including those on the brink of middle-age. For instance, KYTCDT Chairperson, Kenaope Tantsidi (68), said she is thankful that efforts to engage communities in sustainable resource management are proliferating throughout Botswana.

“Now, I am a business woman because of morula oil,” she quipped.

KYTCDT production supervisor, Gaopalelwe Seroke (57), said she relocated to Lerala from her home village to be part of the more than 30 people employed by the trust.

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