Turning wild fruits into business

Leroy Dzenga  Features Writer
Value addition has become a popular phrase in conversations around business activity in Zimbabwe.

Heeding the call, two youths started a project which attaches commercial value to resources usually given for free.

Sakina Nyikavaranda (28) teamed up with her friend Thabani Masawi (31) to engage in baobab powder production.

Baobab, a wild fruit, has slowly been entering the mainstream commerce with Zimbabweans finding its commercial value. The duo found a way to get on the trail and improve the lives of villagers in Nyanyadzi.

Nyanyadzi is a baobab rich area in Manicaland.

“We are running our project, where we separate baobab powder from seed in an integrated hammer mill,” Nyikavaranda.

The simple manner in which the business operates attracted the love of a statistician turned farming enthusiast, who started out in soya bean farming before moving to baobab powder production.

“I got to know about this product through a friend who is now my business partner. What drew me to do this project was my realisation of how it is simple and carries very high returns,” said Nyikavaranda.

“We get baobab from the villagers, per day we produce about 25 kilogrammes. We are hoping to increase our scale as our market presence grows,” she said.

                                                                            Sakina Nyikavaranda

Their output could be more if they owned permitting machinery.

“We don’t own any machinery at the moment as the operation is still young. We are leasing it from a small company in the community,” Nyikavaranda said.

Their market is largely local at the moment because of documentary constraints.

“We are having challenges with attaining an organic certificate for export. Overseas there is a very good market for such products. Too much paper work is required and it’s expensive here.”

Despite the challenges faced in their operation, they hope the new political environment holds promise for them.

“I think the Empower Bank will greatly benefit us as long as they do not ask for collateral because as a young person I have no collateral to offer,” said Nyikavaranda.

Baobab powder serves as an ingredient for many nutritious edibles including sports drinks, yoghurt, muffins, scones, juices and smoothies among other things. The baobab season starts in April and ends in September.

Nyikavaranda and her acquaintance are planning on stocking powder which will sustain their business during the off-peak season.

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