Relebohile Marake and his team make and sell prickly pear and rosehip juices which they call food supplements. “The two plants are well known for being too good for your health,” Relebohile told us.
Let’s go for a ride with the young men and learn the story of their journey.
Catch them here: +266 59212006
“I become close to a prikle pear plant because of my mother,” Relebohile started the conversation. “When I was young, I used to see my older siblings cutting prickly pear leaves, shredding them, and cooking them for my mother to have a drink.” Her mom had arthritis and used to say prikle pear made her feel better.
“We could see that the remedy alleviated her arthritis after using it. We could also see that if she didn’t use it for long, she began to suffer.” So fetching for the prickly pear was a duty for his siblings. It would later become a duty for him.
Time came and his siblings left home. It was his turn.
“I too took turns to find the prickly pear leaves for my mom. I think that was the time when I began to fall in love with the plant.” However, time would pass and he would go for other pursuits and forgot about it. It was not until he spent some time at Mohale’s Hoek that he got attracted to what he saw there.
“At that time, I came to see a huge rosehip processing plant in Mohale’s Hoek and I was attracted,” he said. The plant was processing and exporting the rosehip elsewhere. “I was like, maybe we could do this ourselves.”
Later when he was back home, he was just brainstorming about possible business ideas when his friend, started talking about Rosehip. Being from Quthing, he knew a thing or two about the interesting plant, famed for its high content of vitamin C in its fruits.
That was the turning point.
“He talked about rosehip, only to remind me of the prickly pear, the plant to which I was so much familiar.”
So they made a deal.
They were going to make drinks out of the two plants.
Well, they were setting themselves up for an uphill battle.
For rosehip, they were going to use its fruits. For prickle pear, they would use its leaves. They did a lot of experiments which proved costly. “We had to spend a sizeable chunk of our money to get both products right.” It was an ambitious pursuit.
Little did they know they were going to learn many lessons in the process.
First, they had to learn how to handle the packaging bottles. You don’t put the contents into the bottles at a go. You have to clean and sterilise them. If you don’t, your products might go bad at some point. Also, the temperature of the water you use can affect the bottles themselves negatively.
“We had to get so many things right.”
One of the things they realised was that prickly pear specifically, was highly sensitive to temperature. So they had to carefully choose the right temperature for its processing.
“When we were done, we started testing the products with a circle of our friends and neighbours and we generally received good reviews.”
It is important to note a few things about their two products.
First, they are not necessarily meant to be refreshment drinks. “We kind of like to view them as food supplements,” they said. “While you may drink the rosehip juice for its taste, the same thing can’t be said about the prickly pear drink which is a bit thicker and jelly-like to be used as refreshment.”
Taste aside, the two juices are made from plants that are almost adored and undulated worldwide for their usefulness.
Rosehip, as we said, is famed for its tonnes and tonnes of vitamin C. Scientists say that just 100g of dried rosehip fruit comes packed with about 1700-2000 mg of Vitamin C!
That is massive!
Vitamin C, perhaps the only vitamin with a celebrity status, is known for a host of benefits including formation of collagen, absorption of iron, the proper functioning of the immune system, wound healing, and the maintenance of cartilage, bones, and teeth.
On the other hand, scientists venerate prickly pear for its capacities to lower cholesterol levels, improve the digestive process, decrease the risk of diabetes, boost the immune system, and stimulate bone growth, helps strengthen blood vessels, aid in weight loss, and reduce inflammation.
Having learned about this, we believe that you, the reader, did not wait to finish this story before you were already in overalls, digging the ground and cultivating the amazing plants in the form of prickly pear and rosehip.
There is life in them, after all!