It is Lesotho’s own “Futurelife”, an add-milk-and-eat food that is made from yellow maize-meal. It includes, among others, highly nutritious rosehip and stinging nettle (bobatsi). And it is making history as the first product to graduate out of the National University of Lesotho (NUL) Innovation Hub—more are coming.
The product is owned by the Hub’s Maloti Foods, a company by Joalane Mohale and a Ha Toloane Community Union called Bohloa Gaints. The two bodies have set up a Village Factory that produces the supermeal in the outskirts of Maseru.
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“We are testing the market at the moment and the reception is great,” said Mrs ‘Mampolelo Matete and Mr Motlalepula Maphathe, both of who represent a 15-member Bohloa Giants from Ha Toloane. “There are shopping places already where we literally get into trouble if this product runs off the shelves. We can safely say the market is warming up to this product and we are excited about it.”
So far they are delivering 80 packs of the product per week and the demand is growing.
“We have gotten ourselves busy, all thanks to the NUL Innovation Hub and Ms Mohale,” they appreciated.
Joalene said she experimented with his product well before she joined the NUL Innovation Hub, but when she joined, she took the product to higher heights. “I wanted to make a simple yet tasty product that would address poor nutrition in Lesotho,” she said. “Hence I had to make a careful choice of ingredients.”
Maize was an obvious choice.
It is a staple food in the country and, oh boy, do Basotho feed on papa, a maize-meal based local delicacy! With such a choice, sourcing of raw materials was not going to be a problem.
But it was not just going to be any maize. It would have to be a yellow maize. “Yellow maize is more nutritious than a white one and it comes with a package rich in ‘Carotenoids and Vitamin A’ among others,” said Joalane who is a trained nutritionist from NUL.
Carotenoids (normally associated with carrots) are known to be good for preventing a number of diseases including cancers, heart diseases age-related diseases.
They are famously good for your eyes.
As for Vitamin A, it is almost divine.
It is known for boosting immune system, strengthening your bones and improving your skin health. Yet this is just a fraction of a ton of other things it can do for you.
She then added a dose of other celebrated foods as additives, among which were rosehip (‘morobei or rosa) and the stinging nettle (bobatsi) or, if you are scientist, Urtica dioica. A lot has been said about rosehip on this platform.
But that thing Basotho call Bobatsi is amazing in its benefits.
It has a huge concentration of nutrients and it is known to assist in diseases as varied as high blood pressure and prostate problems.
However, as Joalane worked this product through, she had, at the back of her mind, the fact that most people, especially the young, don’t think about these benefits when they sit down and eat.
As long as it is tasty, many a young fellows are more than happy. Whether the food has Vitamin A or “X” is irrelavant to the young ones (bocha bo makoko—bo ropa pere sebataolong). “That is why we spent a long time making sure that we nailed the taste and the texture of the product,” Joalane said.
Giving it a taste and texture was so demanding that at one point, she said, “we had to pull the products off the markets so that we could fine-tune the taste part of it.”
With time, they met with Bohloa Giants and they decided to join their forces.
“One day we heard Joalane on radio, marketing her products from the NUL Innovation Hub and, immediately, we knew we had to meet her,” Mr Maphatha gave the details of the encounter.
The Maluti’s aims to use locally available products to make tasty popular products fitted squarely into Bohloa Giants’ aims. “When we formed Bohloa Giants, we told ourselves that we were not going to look too far to search for things that could make our livelihoods.We were already rearing free-ranging chicken, growing rosehip and producing many other locally available plants.”
“Then you can imagine our excitement when we heard about Joalane and her willingness to try the Village Factory model with us here at Ha Toloane!”