Culture in a Bottle: Crafting preserves, using the Orphan Crops of our past to create a new Climate Economy in ‘the Home of Mankind’.
We work within seed oil company value chains to turn orphan crops like Morula that typically go to waste into multi-award winning preserves.
We were presenting our solution at the Xynteo Exchange last year (2019) in Norway where our company was one of the 30 chosen worldwide to present and discuss the role indigenous foods and orphan crops will play in creating a new climate economy, creating jobs and mitigating climate change. We spoke about food waste and how to reduce it by introducing orphan crops into the food system.
Lead Applicant Organization Name
Macentyrer Investment T/A Maungo Craft
Lead Applicant Organization Type
Small company (under 50 employees)
If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.
1.Small company (under 50 employees) (Blue Pride - Seed Oil Processor)
2.Small company (under 50 employees) (Organic Farming Manufacturers Botswana - Fertilizer company)
3. Large company (over 50 employees) (Sefalana – Regional Distributor)
4. Research Commercialisation Organisations – Botswana Innovation Hub and the Technology , Innovation Support Centres Network Preferably, National Agricultural Research and Development Institute (NARDI) and affiliated institutions
5. Research Institute- Botswana Academy of Science (BAS)
6. Government (City, State, National, etc.MITI (Ministry of Trade and Investment) and, LEA (Local Enterprise Authority) Incubator
Website of Legally Registered Entity
How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?
Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?
Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?
Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?
Tswapong, a region in the Central District of Botswana, covers an area of 4,947.69 km^2
What country is your selected Place located in?
Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.
More than 95% of the global population’s food needs rely are on fewer than 30 commercial plant species.Orphan crops are crops indigenous to a food system that have not been domesticated and commercialized. Our business model is all about putting our culture in a bottle. Orphan crops are at the centre of our preserves.
There is a literal abundance of such orphan, indigenous crops in the Tswapong region. We selected the Tswapong region because it is rich in culture and ecological resources but faces drought and has a lack of jobs. Climate Change has only exacerbated this reality. The way of life of the 16 villages of Tswapong is at risk. Batswapong and Bapedi rely heavily on subsistence farming all while arable lands are dwindling.
Tswapong is important to us at Maungo Craft because we are a 100% citizen owned business. Creating jobs in Botswana’s rural areas is central to our company ethos. I am an IP Attorney with an interest in Indigenous Knowledge and Systems and Tswapong is rich in IDK. Tswapong is important as a place where watermelon fields grow and this allows for intercropping by 2050. In Tswapong we can show that intercropping orphan crops like Morula can improve crop yields and soil quality.
We have helped form an association, the NPAB (Natural Products Association of Botswana). I am the current Association Interim Secretary. Tswapong, being a region that is so rich in indigenous trees is one that is very important to our plans. Maungo Craft gets Morula pulp from Machaneng a village in Tswapong. This pulp is collected by the constituents of Tswapong during Morula season. The collection of the pulp is a communal activity in Tswapong. Our seed oil partner and pulp processor Blue Pride works with the communities and is located in Machaneng. Further the ancestral home of one of the founders of Maungo Craft is Maunatlala which is in Tswapong.
Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.
The name Tswapong is derived from Letswapo, and is a Sengwato expression signifying the foot of a hill. Renowned for its scenic serene beauty, Tswapong is home to the Tswapong Hills. The Tswapong Hills are considered sacred to the Batswapong and Bapedi people and have ancient cultural connections. Batswapong believe the Hills are the resting place of their ancestors, known as Badimo. The dominant language in Tswapong is Setswana and the dominant religion is Christianity.
Tswapong is one of the five administrative units within the vast Central District of Botswana. Located East of Palapye, Tswapong has 16 main villages and has Sefhare as its royal Capital. The population from village to village varies in size with the average size of a village being roughly 800. Sefhare, the royal capital has a population of around 3000 people while Seolwane as of 2010 had a population of under 2000 people. Lerala is one of the largest villages in Tswapong with nearly 8000 inhabitants.
Located within the Tswapong Hills, next to the Goo Moremi village is the Goo Moremi Gorge. The Gorge is a water-rich ecological gem beyond compare. The vegetation in the Goo Moremi Gorge is unlike anything anywhere else in Botswana. The Goo Moremi Gorge is full of lush, unique vegetation. The Goo Moremi Gorge has many seasonal water springs, rivers and a diverse array of wildlife such as Cape Vultures. Goo Moremi/The Tswapong Hills are a national heritage site and have been short-listed for the UNESCO Tentative List which is a mark for its consideration to become a UNESCO world Heritage Site.
According to UNESCO “Tswapong Cultural Landscape has evidence of direct prehistoric human occupation and interaction with environment and land use dating from the Early Stone Age to the contemporary settlement implicitly of the living and intangible heritage of the area”. The area, like the rest of Botswana, is still largely semi-arid and suffers from drought, water shortages, a lack of rainfall and the extreme realities brought about by climate change.
Climate change has had a devastating effect on the Tswapong region which relies on subsistence arable farming and livestock to survive. Traditional foods from Tswapong include Mophane Worm, Paleche, Samp and Seswaa. Paleche is a hardened porridge made from corn or mealie meal that is typically served with meat, vegetables and a stewed broth. Seswaa is slow cocked shredded, salted meat while samp is dried corn kernels that have been stamped and chopped until broken but not as fine as Mealie-meal or mielie rice.
Watermelons are also very popular in the Tswapong region with Botswana said to be the ancestral home of the watermelon. In the Tswapong region a traditional fermented alcoholic drink called ‘Chetopoti’ is made from watermelon. Chetopoti is believed to have antioxidant and medicinal properties. Women in the Tswapong region sell Chetopoti to earn a casual income with some households selling it to generate money to pay school fees for young children.
What is the approximate size of your Place, in square kilometers? (New question, not required)
What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?
Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.
The challenges facing Tswapong are all interconnected. They can be described under the headings of technology, culture, economics, environment, policy and diet but one way or another, they all are related to climate change. Climate Change is a threat to the entire Tswapong food system.
According to Voice of America “Southern Africa is experiencing one of the worst droughts in years, with more than 40 million people expected to face food insecurity because of livestock and crop losses. Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and Zimbabwe have declared it an emergency”.
Extreme drought has caused environmental degradation of arable lands in Tswapong for one. Drought and a shortage of water is killing livestock. The effect of climate change on subsistence farming in Tswapong appears set to only worsen by 2050.
There is a shortage of potable water in villages in the Tswapong region. Responding to a question in Parliament, Minister Kefentse Mzwinila in November 2019, said there is a need “in the long run procurement of a nitrate removal packaged water treatment plant by Water Utilities Corporation (WUC)”. The Tswapong region is badly in need of water treatment technology. In 2020 water in the Tswapong area is borehole water and there is a lack purification technology. Shortage of clean water is a threat to the entire food system of Tswapong in 2020 and 2050.
Watermelons are believed to have originated in Botswana. The Tswapong region traditionally produces watermelons, with good yields despite poor rains. In 2020 farmers from Tswapong are selling their watermelons in other parts of the country such as Francistown. Climate Change however threatens to shrink arable lands in Tswapong. The Tswapong region is rich in indigenous, Orphan crops such as Morojwa, Mokgalo Moretlwa, Mmilo and Morula.
These Orphan Crops are drought tolerant and as such can grow in the face of extreme heat and lack of rain. These form part of the local diet and food system. In 2020, these trees face threats such as deforestation, a lack of research, commercialization and domestication. There is also a lack of technology applied to processing such Orphan Crops. Women in Tswapong processing Morula for example do so largely by hand in a manual manner. The women of Tswapong when processing Morula for seed oil for example crack open the seed with a stone to get to the nut. This is backbreaking work. There is a lack of policy towards the commercialization of Orphan crops in Tswapong. Without any concerted policy intervention Tswapong may lose its Orphan Crops forever.
The Tswapong food system is threatened by a lack of jobs. The villages of Tswapong are underdeveloped and job prospects are low. The closure of the BCL mine in 2016 has led to an increase in unemployment in the area. This has threatened food security in Tswapong in 2020. If employment prospects are not improved by 2050 the lack of jobs can lead to high levels of malnutrition and a far less nourishing diet of residents.
Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.
According to the African Orphan Crops Consortium (AOCC) “to diversify and stabilize the global food supply, enhance agricultural productivity, and tackle malnutrition, greater use of…so-called orphan crops…could be a partial solution to Climate Change”.
According to Research Fellows Ehtel Phiri and Palesa Mothapo “…people have lost interest in the use of indigenous crops for food and prefer the more costly commercial crops, despite high rates of poverty”.
Maungo Craft has won 11 local and International Awards in 3 years. In 2018 we were endorsed by Martha Stewart. In 2019 we won Gogettaz, a pan Agripreneur prize by African billionaire Strive Masiyiwa. In 2019 we were shortlisted for the Xynteo Impact Maker Award in Norway for change makers with solutions for climate change. The rise of a food company grounded in Orphan Crops is reviving interest in Botswana.
We will work within the systems of seed oil partners to bring processing technology to Tswapong, creating stable supply chains. Blue Pride, our processing partner would have to go through 300 tonnes of Morula fruit pulp to get to 12 tonnes of cosmetic seed oil. That is where Maungo Craft comes in to uncork the bottleneck.
Our distributor Sefalana, who is also a partner in this application, have distribution linkages throughout Southern Africa’s hospitality industry as well as retail reach. This enables us to scale exponentially and use even more Orphan Crops.
The Ministry of Trade and Investment has shown policy support with the revised National Export Strategy 2019-2024 prioritizing indigenous products. The Local Enterprise Authority as of 2019, incubated Maungo Craft. Botswana Academy of Science (BAS) has a network of researchers and will help facilitate local research into orphan crops.The Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH), a partner in this application recently signed an MOU with five local institutions launching the Technology Innovation Support Centre [TISC] Network. The objective of the TISC is to facilitate access to IP databases to exploit the resources for economic value.
People in Tswapong will make money through seasonal harvesting jobs. When the season is finished, permanent jobs are created through the various related manufacturing processes.
Morula, for one, is a “tuck shop on a trunk”. The seed will be used to create cosmetic oil, creating manufacturing jobs in Tswapong. Morula seed cake (the oil waste by-product) and skin will be used for nutrient dense organic fertilizer. This will be done for our project partner Organic Farming Manufacturers Botswana (OFMB). Organic fertilizer enriching the arable land in Tswapong.
By 2050 we will intercrop Orphan Crops in watermelon fields to nourish the soil. By 2050 we will manufacture nutritious animal feed made from Orphan Crops. By 2050 we shall use Morula seed cake to manufacture biochar. The biochar will purify water in Tswapong. No part of the fruits or trees will be left to waste.
High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.
Manufacturing jobs will come to Tswapong. According to Gigascience “It is estimated that the total value of the commercial morula trade is worth USD $160,000 per year to rural communities”. The establishment of the Orphan Crop plant, combined with the expansion of Maungo Craft and the distribution network of Sefalana will take these Orphan crops out of the informal trade sector and into commercial retail.
Fruit pulp processing for Maungo Craft shall be an engine driving the plant. Green solar technology will be used to generate power for the plant with no environmental degradation. The local cosmetic oil industry, unburdened by high levels of fruit waste shall experience a boom, generating jobs. Organic fertilizer processing for inputs sold to OFMB will be another engine driving growth.
By 2050 organic animal feed manufacturing shall be established in the Tswapong region. The Orphan Crop animal feed shall nourish livestock in the Tswapong region and the cattle of Botswana giving them a literal fighting chance in the face of drought. Biochar manufacturing in Tswapong shall lead to biochar being used for water purification technology in Tswapong to increase levels of drinkable borehole water. Biochar shall be exported for the purification of platinum and gold to mines regionally.
Intercropping Orphan Crops in watermelon fields will improve soil quality, while the trees act as Carbon Sinks fighting climate change. Orphan crops such as Morojwa, Mokgalo, Moretlwa, Mmilo and Morula already form part of local food systems and will only become more cherished in Tswapong. Most of the jobs in the Tswapong region are in the informal sector, what the ILO calls “vulnerable jobs”. By 2050 our vision will create sustainable manufacturing jobs in Tswapong.
Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?
Introduction Our vision is for the rise of a future forged through Tswapong’s cultural, dietary legacy. Or as Bob Marley once sang, “In this great future you can’t forget your past…”This is how tears will dry in Tswapong.
Botswana is a semi-arid country in the middle of a drought emergency. Orphan Crop trees such as Morula, as they are used in Israel, will act as carbon sinks offsetting CO2 emissions into the atmosphere.
Traditionally, Morula fruit eaten specifically in rural areas like Tswapong would have the peels and the kernels disposed in the fields or just thrown away. The amount of fruit waste this generates is enormous. Our vision is for the peels to effectively be used in manufacturing useful by-products. No part of the fruit or tree will be left to waste.
The people of Tswapong rely primarily on subsistence farming. The jobs created by our vision would feed various manufacturing processes and industries. It would allow for the expansion of Maungo Craft, feed the processes of OFMB (fertilizers) and uncork the bottle neck faced by Blue Pride (seed oil) in the short term. By 2050 it would allow for the production of biochar in Tswapong along with animal feed.
For a region in the country that is still devastated by the loss of jobs that resulted in the closure of the BCL mine in 2016, this project represents the greatest economic prospect the region has seen in decades.
According to Irene Yaun Sun author of ‘The Next Factory of the World: How Chinese Investment is Reshaping Africa’… “Manufacturing jobs belong to the traded sector…which tends to be more productive. Economists know that in the long run, the only way to achieve higher standards of living is through higher productivity.” Manufacturing in Tswapong will drive demand for other jobs. For every manufacturing job that’s created, 1.6 service jobs follow.
As Rob Bloom, Senior counselor for manufacturing policy under President Obama put it “If you get an auto assembly plant, Walmart follows; if you get a Walmart, an auto assembly plant does not follow”. The establishment of the processing plant in Tswapong will lead to the creation of other service jobs in Tswapong to cater to the manufacturing sector. A ‘Tswapongmart’ if you will.
According to Chad Frischmann, Vice President of Project Drawdown, a nonprofit organization that assesses, maps, models, and communicates the world’s most substantive solutions to global warming, 6 of the top 20 solutions deal with how and what we eat. This is compared to 5 of the top 20 that deal with energy. If one looks at the relationship between how we use land and the relationship to the food systems, 12 of the top 20 solutions to climate change are around food and land use. That is 60% of the top 20 solutions. The people of Tswapong still remember what many of us in urban areas have long forgotten: a natural and organic diet is healthy for you. Orphan Crops often are more nutritious and nourishing than their commercial counterparts. Local processing will generate a sense of pride that will fight the encroachment of negative modern perceptions. Baobab for example has 4x the potassium of bananas, 3x the vitamin c of oranges and two times the calcium of spinach. The Morula fruit is rich in oleic acids and antioxidants and has 8x more vitamin c than oranges. The nuts of these trees are rich in nutritional content having high levels of protein, energy and mineral. They are rich in minerals like iron, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus and copper.
By 2050, our vision is to manufacture affordable animal feed. Not only will no part of the seed goes to waste but more importantly livestock, an important part of the Tswapong diet have a fighting chance at survival in the face of climate change. Improving water quality in Tswapong is highly important to a healthy diet. WUC is still working to set up the processing plant in Tswapong. It is important by then for Tswapong to be using good purification treatment. This will be achieved through the processing of morula seed cake residue to create biochar, keeping drinking water clean in Tswapong.
Watermelon yields have continued despite poor and erratic rainfall and even in the drought experienced in the Southern African region. Intercropping Orphan Crops can be a useful tool in improving soil quality and thus yields of watermelon.
Maungo Craft is a company that puts our ‘Culture in a bottle’. Our multi-stakeholder group of organizations further is committed to a nourishing food system that fights climate change. One of the biggest challenges that has faced the commercialization of orphan crops has been the lack of branding. Many people in urban areas view orphan crops as food for the poor, while many in rural areas aspire to eat like the people in urban areas.
To combat these perceptions one can say we have taken a “cocoa leaf” from the page of chocolate. According to Wikipedia “After the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs, chocolate was imported to Europe. At the beginning Spaniards would use it as a medicine to treat illnesses such as abdominal pain because it had a bitterness to it. Once sweetened, it transformed. It quickly became a court favourite....the price of chocolate began to drop dramatically in 1890s and 1900s as the production of chocolate began to shift away from the New World to Asia and Africa. Therefore, chocolate could be purchased by middle class.”
Our vision is for a proliferation of foods that place orphan crops at its centre. We realize that this would make such products niche to many of our customers and we have partnered with Sefalana to help distribute our products across Southern Africa for that reason. Our vision is to make the Orphan Crops traditionally part of the diet of the people of Tswapong, popular in Tswapong, Botswana and to export.
Our vision is to popularize Orphan Crops such as Morula, Baobab and Mmilo in Botswana and abroad. This is a first mover’s advantage that has helped to get the name Maungo Craft into the hands of people like Martha Stewart and Strive Masiyiwa. However as our brand continues to grow, opportunities will arise for other food companies who can reach informed customers that are now aware of the orphan crop. Customers will be open to try their products because Maungo Craft has been doing the ‘education’ leg work.
In terms of Food production, 83% of carbon waste is created at the production stage. In the rural areas, especially with cooperatives Morula and other Orphan crops are all too frequently processed by hand. Women in the villages with Morula for example take the hard seed and crack it with a stone. There are three hard shell lids on the nut that crack open when such force is applied. This manual action is typically what it takes to process the seed and expose the nut. After this the oil can be processed. The processing plant that this project will establish will take Orphan Crop processing away from the manual and into the 21st century.
This technology will allow for job creation without such extreme back breaking work. Further technology will be used in the processing of all products and by-products: oil, fruit pulp, fertilizer, feed and biochar. The technology that Maungo Craft will be employing by 2050 in Tswapong’s processing plant by 2050 will be primarily be solar. Botswana has some of the highest quality sunshine in the world, making it prime for the use of solar technology.
Botswana has a dire need to diversify its economy. Botswana’s National Export Strategy (NES) 2019-2024 goes some way to define indigenous products (orphan crops) as a key sector. By 2050 more can yet still be done to define a framework. Botswana and Tswapong especially could use a national framework specifically designed towards the protection of Indigenous Knowledge Systems. Our partner the BIH through the TISC network offers training in regards to Intellectual Property rights, including Indigenous Knowledge.
Botswana to that effect has also signed up to the SheTrades Initiative. The Government of Botswana through the Ministry of Trade and Investment will work together with the International Trade Centre (ITC) under the auspices of their flagship programme. The Indigenous Sector and Orphan Crops are specifically being identified by the Botswana SheTrades chapter.
Our vision involves this sector being a booming one by 2050. One of Maungo Craft’s founders became involved in SheTrades Botswana after speaking at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa sharing the Maungo Craft story to inspire upcoming African businesses. Maungo Craft’s other founder is the Interim Secretary for the NPAB, an association pushing for Natural and Indigenous Products policy adoption in Botswana. Our fellow stakeholders such as Sefalana, Blue Pride, OFMB are LEA are at the forefront of pushing for policy.
Ensuring the sustainable commercialization of orphan crops means research. There is a need to study the nutritional and anti-nutritional composition of Morula (Sclerocarya birrae) in order to establish its potential as a source of nutrient supplement. The skins are also dried and used as animal fodder. With more research and innovation, the skins could easily find a market as nitrogen rich feed.
There is an urgent need to conduct comparative studies to determine the effect of climate change (e.g., elevated CO2 and drought) on nutritional quality of Tswapong’s orphan crops as well. We have brought on board BAS who has a network of researchers capable of conducting all relevant research into Orphan Crops locally by 2050. BIH the home of the TISC network. The TISC Network will give the stakeholder’s access to the Intellectual Property Reasources of WIPO.
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