Angel of Hope, UZ forge alliance in traditional grains First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa and University of Zimbabwe registrar Dr Munyaradzi Madambi look at some of the products such as somira bread, cooking oil, fish feed, cookies, cakes, mealie meal and many others being produced by students in partnership with Angel of Hope Foundation with the aim of promoting indigenous products which are highly nutritional and medicinal. - Pictures: John Manzongo

Tendai Rupapa Senior Reporter

First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa’s Angel of Hope Foundation and the University of Zimbabwe have forged an alliance to assess an array of products that can be extracted from traditional grains and natural resources in a development aimed at upskilling beneficiaries for post-university, thus creating jobs.

Dr Mnangagwa requested tertiary institutions to channel their research into the health benefits of traditional grains, which have proven to be highly nutritious and medicinal.

Studies by the university were inspired by Amai Mnangagwa’s traditional meal cookout competitions aimed at promoting indigenous products, traditional grains and meals which have high nutritional value and medicinal properties.

Traditional grains are also resistant to harsh climatic conditions spawned by climate change.

This is part of the formal collaboration between Angel of Hope Foundation and the University of Zimbabwe in the areas of culinary arts, gastronomy, cultural tourism and promotion of traditional foods.

On display yesterday were countless well packaged foods that can be derived from natural resources to enhance their appeal and curb idleness which promotes drug abuse and other social ills.

The products also included food, drinks, bread and oils.

First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa samples traditional mahewu made from baobab fruits by University of Zimbabwe students in partnership with Angel of Hope Foundation to promote indigenous foods and products which are highly nutritional and medicinal

Dr Mnangagwa, who is the country’s health ambassador and environment patron, expressed desire to ensure innovation hubs play a part in ensuring the country benefited fully from its natural resources.

“Angel of Hope Foundation has asked universities, especially those students that are in hubs, to come up with more of what we can get from the traditional foods.

“We are just getting it as food like mealie meal, but we have gone further in coming up with many other products that are extracted from our readily available ingredients. The hubs have come at a time when our students are going to do more for us and we are going to benefit as the consumers and it is going to help the whole country.

“This all started when we had the traditional cookout competitions which I spearheaded in the 10 provinces of the country showing us what they eat, how they prepare the food, the ingredients they use, in general it is about what is there in the provinces. So many menus came out that time and this is now what the University of Zimbabwe has started working into to see how much we can benefit as a people health wise and this is an ongoing programme.

“Our grannies in the rural areas will also help in picking up some of these things that come with the rains and some of the things that we grow ourselves. It is going to spread and it’s also going to increase opportunities, creating employment even for youth because Angel of Hope has spread its wings to work with everyone including those in the rural areas. I want to thank the University of Zimbabwe for working with the Angel of Hope Foundation,” she said.

Some of the products like samp cakes, somira bread, traditional rice, pumpkin cakes, samp balls, and Zim terrine among others being produced by University of Zimbabwe students in partnership with Angel of Hope Foundation to derive health benefits of traditional grains and promoting indigenous products which are highly nutritious and medicinal

UZ registrar, Dr Munyaradzi Madambi, paid tribute to the First Lady’s working relationship with the country’s oldest university.

“We are exploring opportunities with Angel of Hope and Amai. Amai has been visiting our tertiary institutions and in particular has developed very keen interest in what’s happening in our innovation hubs and she has seen a galaxy of products that we are producing in our innovation hubs which are very consistent with what Angel of Hope is doing as we all know Angel of Hope is into health, Angel of Hope is into issues of hygiene, environment, education, the whole discourse of philanthropy so what we have here this morning is just a wide array of things that we think are very consistent with Amai’s vision.

“The bread we are making is special in that it is made out of sweet potatoes and we mix our sweet potatoes with wheat so it’s 32 percent of sweet potatoes and the rest is wheat. It is also rich in vitamin A which is good for your eyes. Our rural farmers, vana mbuya nana sekuru are bringing their sweet potatoes to the University of Zimbabwe agro industrial park where we produce this. Another thing that is also exciting is the fish feed we are producing. Quite a huge chunk of this fish feed that you see on the market today is actually imported.

“All you are seeing here is heritage based production, heritage based innovations which really comes in the Excellency’s call that is the clarion call to use our own heritage, things that we find in our own locality. And what’s so unique about this apart from being rich in protein, this feed is very light in terms of density so when you put it in the pond it floats it doesn’t go into the bottom of the water and you do not lose even an inch of it all of it is actual consumed by the fish and it’s a lot cheaper because we use our locally available ingredients.

“We also have oils which are also made out of the traditional things that we find in our localities. We have this range of products we have that include mahewu made from mazhanje so we can now go to Mutoko and Murehwa harvesting our mazhanje instead of throwing them away and make a wide range of products and all this is very courtesy of Amai’s vision and we are really looking to serious collaboration with Angel of Hope Foundation.

“We have discussed a wide range of opportunities here on the local market and also the external market where our innovation hubs can also take advantage of the reach that Angel of Hope has,” he said.

He added: “We are currently making soya cooking oil but we can use any seed. Most of the snacks you find in shops are not very nutritious. However, the ones we are making are made from sorghum, millet and rapoko, which are more nutritious.”

Tinashe Gahadza, a part 4 student at the University of Zimbabwe, thanked the First Lady for allowing students to freely express themselves and show various products that can be derived from the country’s natural resources.

“We are now able to create employment for ourselves and not just read from books. This has helped us a lot as youths because we are now able to become more innovative and it also helps us to combat the surge in drug abuse. If we innovate as youths, we will be empowering ourselves and it gives a positive outcome in the future,” he said.

Joyce Nyamayaro, a culinary student at UZ said: “Based on a vision brought about by the First Lady through her traditional meal cookout competitions we saw some ideas from what was being done and as students we thought of a way to commercialise it and make it attractive to the consumer.

“Our bread which we now have from a combination of sweet potatoes and wheat will be loved by children. Some of our children do not like sweet potatoes, but if it’s in the form of bread, they will take it without losing the nutrients we get from sweet potatoes.

“Being innovative brings income and being able to look after our families. We are also exploring further other dishes using nutrients which had been forgotten but through our mother’s cook-out competitions, it brought back our indigenous foods. We are modernising them, but at the same time maintaining their nutrients. We want to thank our mother, the First Lady, for opening opportunities for us. As youths, we are grateful,” she said.

Some of the products being produced by University of Zimbabwe students in partnership with Angel of Hope Foundation following First Lady Dr Auxillia Mnangagwa’s request to tertiary institutions to research into the health benefits of traditional grains and foods thereby promoting indigenous products which are highly nutritious and medicinal

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