Baobab fruit changes Sengezane women livelihoods.
By Mvelo Mthiyane Zondo in Sengezane
GWANDA-Umkomo, the baobab fruit is regarded by many as just a natural traditional fruit that serves no meaningful purpose but to Sengezane Hungoyedza women club, the fruit is equivalent to gold as it has changed their economic fortunes.
To this group, the baobab tree brings health and hope to their livelihoods as its fruits have potentially changed their lives after producing baobab jam for resell locally and outside Gwanda.
In an interview with club members at their homesteads at Sengezane village, ward 14, under Chief Nhlamba area, the Hungoyedza club chairlady, Lostiina Dube spoke highly of the benefits derived from the baobab tree and its fruits.
“Besides processing jam from the baobab fruits, virtually all parts of the tree are useful. From the bark some make marts and blankets while the leaves and roots can produce medicines and porridge respectively”.
Dube further explained the journey that the club has walked into making the project a money making one. “We started this club in 2015 when it was a rotational many club among members. As we grew, we realized that doing an income generating project was a brilliant idea.So we engaged into a low cost baobab jam making project which requires less capital because the main product is picked from the bush at no cost at all.The only expense we have is that of buying sugar and citric that are added to the fruit powder and water,” said the chairlady Dube.
Asked about the production and market, Dube said they are currently producing at a low scale to supply local market. “Initially we started with 27 bottles of 375mls which were all sold to local villagers. One bottle cost RTGS3 bond. When people started appreciating our product, we then increased the production levels to in order to supply neighbouring communities.As for the market is more than enough. We have taken our product to bigger shows such as Zimbabwe International Trade Fair and Gwanda Agriculture where we pushed volumes,” said Dube adding that she managed to buy her own heifer from the proceeds without any assistance the husband.
Meanwhile, the same ward also has Asambeni club that produces plain buns for sale. According to the Asambeni club chairperson, known as Mrs. Moyo said their club was formed in a similar way with Hungoyedza.
“It was in 2018 when we were into a money spinning club where members will collect their contributions and give it to one member. After realizing that the money was enough to start a project we then thought of a bakery which kick started in 2019,” said Moyo.
The vice chairperson, Richard Ndlovu had this to say.“We used to take turns in giving each other cub money and paying fees for our children at a rotational basis before growing into a bakery.We are specializing in baking plain burns which is a better replacement for bread that is now too expensive to many. The market is wide, ranging from villagers, community meeting and school children during sporting events,” said the vice chairperson.A single bun cost 40 cents while a pack of 5 is RTGS2 bond. Both club members, from the bakery side and jam makers appealed for better and sophisticated equipment for improved production.