Michael Tome–business reporter
Raw milk processor Dairibord said local businesses need to reduce import costs by integrating many indigenous fruit varieties into the production of the various foods and beverages they manufacture for domestic and export markets. increase.
That’s because the company successfully launched a baobab fruit drink under the Cascade brand in June this year.
Mr Dairibord said the commercialization of indigenous fruits is gaining momentum in Zimbabwe. Just last year, the government, through the National Biotechnology Agency, established a Mapufula/Marula fruit factory at the Rutenga growing point in Masvingo.
By last month, villagers in the area were reported to have made at least $5 million selling fruit to factories.
Mapfura/marula is used in the production of juices, alcoholic beverages, edible oils and feed, and is currently being sold locally, with export plans underway.
According to Dairibord, the baobab fruit was declared a superfood in developed countries in 2015, and some local companies have already exported hundreds of tons of baobab pulp to the US and Europe, and have been doing so for some time. rice field.
In 2020, the global market for baobab powder was estimated at US$6 billion and is projected to reach a revised value of US$8.5 billion by 2027.
At a recent Zimbabwe Marketers’ Association event, Ruvarashe Matambo, Daiibord’s head of branding, corporate affairs and research and development, said the dairy manufacturer imports $10 million worth of raw materials and flavors annually. clarified.
She said the commercialization of baobab is one initiative that could help curb imports of the aforementioned raw material.
“As a dairy processor, I can tell you that we spend a lot of money a year importing raw materials, mainly about ingredients and flavors.
“We have become the largest commercial customer of baobab pulp locally, which shows how little we utilize most of our natural or indigenous resources,” she said. .
The Cascade brand is found in orange, tropical punch and mango flavors, and while the company spends foreign currency on imports, Baobab is made from locally sourced, natural baobab pulp.
Matambo added that there is an opportunity for manufacturers to partner with local higher education institutions to come up with locally grown solutions that can help save the much-needed foreign currency the country desperately needs.
Baobab fruit, also known by its scientific name “Adansonia digitata”, is rich in ascorbic acid, vitamin C, calcium, potassium, magnesium and antioxidants.
The fruit core is an excellent source of energy, protein, fat, calcium, potassium and magnesium.
The fruit is readily available in Zimbabwe’s arid regions, and Dailibord sources most of it from Chirundu, Chipinji and Birchenow.
Commercialization of indigenous fruits has the potential to create jobs and eradicate poverty. It improves income sources for rural people, especially economically marginalized women and young people.
Higher Education and Higher Education Innovation, Science and Technology Minister Amon Murwila said higher education should help import substitution through innovation, especially in a brain-rich country like Zimbabwe.