Zimbabwe’s Wild Fruit Products Set to Conquer SADC Market

How a university innovation hub is turning a wild fruit into a lucrative export industry

by Motoni Olodun

Zimbabwe is poised to export innovative products made from masawu, a wild fruit that grows abundantly in the Zambezi Valley. Masawu, also known as Ziziphus, is rich in vitamin C and has various health benefits. It can be processed into juice, jam, wine, sweets, and even soap.

The products have attracted the interest of hotels and airlines in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region, as well as King Mswati of Eswatini, who expressed his desire to have them in his country. The products were showcased at the Eswatini International Trade Fair in September 2023, where they received positive feedback from potential buyers.

The products are developed by the Bindura University of Science Education (BUSE) innovation hub, which aims to promote value addition and industrialization of indigenous resources. The hub employs victims of human trafficking, who received US$ 2,000 cash from President Mnangagwa during his visit to the university last week.

President Mnangagwa also capped 2349 graduates who graduated with degrees and diplomas at the BUSE 22nd graduation ceremony. He also commissioned the National Goat Genetic Improvement Centre, a goat semen processing biotechnology laboratory, to enhance goat production and quality in the country.

BUSE vice-chancellor Professor Eddie Mwenje said they look forward to completing the Zambezi Valley masawu production plant, enabling them to meet the national and regional demand for the products. He said the industry will transform and positively impact the people of Mashonaland Central Province and the nation at large.

Masawu products are part of Zimbabwe’s efforts to harness its natural resources and diversify its economy, which has been hit hard by droughts, sanctions, and inflation. The country has also invested in other sectors, such as mining, tourism, and agriculture, to boost its exports and generate foreign currency.

Zimbabwe is not the only country tapping into its wild fruits potential. Other African countries, such as Kenya, Tanzania, and South Africa, have also been developing products from baobab, marula, tamarind, and other indigenous fruits with nutritional and medicinal value.

Wild fruits are a source of income and food security for rural communities, especially during climate change and environmental degradation. They also contribute to biodiversity conservation and sustainable management of natural resources.

Source: The Herald

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