Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Move over cows, the donkey finally has its day

The secret has been out for centuries but it seems to have taken this long for the world to catch up on the nutritional and cosmetic value of the ass’ milk.   The ancient Queen of Egypt, Cleopatra, who ruled between 51 -30 BC is reported to have had a penchant for immersing herself in donkey milk as a way to preserve her beauty.

Now, thanks to the determination of one Johannes Visagie, donkey milk is about to have its day here in Botswana. Visagie discovered the value of milk when he took as treatment for heart related complications. The doctor who had been treating him at the time could not believe the results and recommended donkey milk for his patients. That was how Visagie, now a proud owner of Kalahari Secrets donkey milk products, struck gold. He started doing research on the nutritional and cosmetic value of donkey milk. “I also spent 8 weeks following them into the bush on a daily just to study their behavior.”

Visagie then submitted his donkey milk project to the University of Botswana (UB), Chemistry department in 2015 which gave him the thumbs up and offered him the use of their lab for production. “Our literature survey on the benefits of donkey milk has brought a lot of positive usage of the same of which some are herein below. The milk has tremendous health benefits due to its nutritional composition at which if consumed it may provide a possible remedy or relief to many of the symptoms for different diseases in our country at the moment,” said the university in a supporting letter addressed to the Office of the President.

The letter states that while a lot of nutritional supplements and other drugs have adverse or side effects to people, donkey milk as a natural may prove to be a safe alternative. “It has also been used for skin care, which as a natural product may be a welcome alternative to facial creams which at times have chemicals that burn soft tissue of the face,” the letter says. Lifestyle ran into Visagie at Innovation Botswana 2017 (Botswana Innovation Hub, Gaborone) this past Thursday October 26 where he was exhibiting some his products.

He says he has been working with Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) who are assisting with the necessary commercial expertise for his products to reach a wider market. He has also received assistance from Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC), Botswana College of Agriculture (BCA), and UB. Some of the donkey milk products Visagie has in stock include capsules, soap, lotion, khawa scrub, face ointment, ointment for athletes’ foot, and fresh milk.

He keeps at least 150 donkeys at his farm.  BIH held its inaugural innovation day “Innovation Botswana 2017”this past Thursday at their Science and Technology Park where various innovators showcased some of their products.  When addressing members of the media prior to the event Public Relations Manager Tigele Mokobi said the event aims to celebrate innovation and create a platform for networking, dialogue and exhibition with intent of bringing together local and regional players in the science, technology and innovation space.

The event also saw innovators, technology entrepreneurs, government stakeholders, academics and the business community coming together to share ideas. The day also served as an opportunity for BIH to sensitize stakeholders and the public on current developments that have been taking place at the park.

The public were given insight into what innovators are developing in their own spaces while also raising awareness on what legislative policies the government is putting in place to support science and technology. BIH was established to develop and operate a science and Technology Park with the core aim of diversifying the economy and leading Botswana towards transformation into a knowledge based economy by encouraging research, development, education and innovation.


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