Joburg Market to formalise Masonja business - a multi-million rand industry in Limpopo Province, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia
Example of the Good Life brand and packaging to be used for selling processed masonja on the Joburg Market trade floor
The Joburg Market is working with SA´s Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Department of Economic Development, Environment and Tourism in Limpopo on a project to formalise Mopane worm business to empower rural women as part of job creation. Mopane worms or otherwise popularly known as Masonja – is the basis of a multi-million rand industry in Limpopo Province, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia.
Contrary to some people´s beliefs, masonja are eaten for pleasure and because they are cultural delicacies and not necessarily a reflection of their economic status. Trading of mopane worms is currently a commercial business with good economic returns. During a good year, dried mopane worms sold by an urban vendor can make a significant turnover and help eradicate poverty. The formalisation of the supply chain can contribute multimillion rands to South Africa´s gross domestic product (GDP).
A processing centre has been established in Dzumeri, near Giyani in Limpopo and is planned for opening in November 2010. The factory will be equipped with state of the art processing and packaging equipment. In the off season, the plant will be used for the processing of other products like morogo (wild spinach) and the drying of fruits. Depending on the results, another processing centre is earmarked for the Phalaborwa area.
Processed masonja will be sent to Joburg Market for selling on the trade floor together with other commodities under the Good Life brand. Using its dominant position and global reach, the Joburg Market will market and develop programmes to increase awareness about masonja as South Africa´s prime indigenous food that is full of nutrients. Masonja, is high in protein, minerals, vitamins, phosphorus, zinc, calcium and iron.
For its part, CSIR would train a group of women on harvesting and storing masonja in a hygienic way to minimise the risks associated with hygiene and safety during the pre-processing stage.
The shelf life and availability of masonja is short and the problem could be minimised when there is control on the supply chain. Having CSIR on board will help in the sustainable harvesting of masonja for food security.