Friday, 7 December 2018

LN: Czechs help Ethiopians run business with superfood moringa

ČTK |
10 July 2018

Prague, July 9 (CTK) - Two Czech enthusiasts, project manager Jaromir Novak and botanist Petr Nemec from Brno, with the aid of the Foreign Ministry, help Ethiopians run business with superfood moringa, daily Lidove noviny (LN) wrote on Monday.

The moringa oleifera plant does not need any special care, it grows quickly and can be harvested a few times a year.

Ground leaves of this permanently green tree, sold in the form of pressed tablets, have become a hit among healthy food as they contain a high amount of antioxidants, minerals, vitamins and proteins, while the moringa oil, pressed from its seeds, is broadly used in cosmetics.

However, in the fertile southern Ethiopia, where moringa is traditionally grown, this "exotic dietary supplement" is used for other purposes. Its leaves are sold at market places and further used as cabbage, or they are dried and ground to flour.

In any case, moringa remains an underestimated local product and Ethiopians would hardly suppose that they could make a fortune of it, LN writes.

Now the two Czechs are trying to turn the ordinary moringa tree into "green gold."

"During the first phase of the project, we were teaching the locals how to handle moringa. They were used to growing it for direct consumption, and they dried it in a completely unsuitable way in direct sunshine," Nemec explained.

With the aid of him and Novak, local farmers have managed not only to grow moringa, but also to dry it in a top-quality way, pack it up in sacks and dispatch.

Both businessmen are also purchasing moringa from the locals under the fair-trade rules and pay a good price to them. Thanks to the Czechs, a farm run by women only, which they chose in Ethiopia as their partner in the moringa business, is able to support more than 20 families.

Novak and Nemec have won a 0.5-million-crown subsidy for their project from the Czech Development Agency, which works under the Foreign Affairs Ministry. They have gained the money in the B2B programme, in which the agency supports a market research in the countries where business is risky and it is impossible to get commercial loans for the development of hopeful projects.

Now Nemec and Novak plan to build their own production facility in Ethiopia.

"So far, the dried moringa is transported to Europe where it is further processed. However, we would like to produce and pack tablets and press moringa oil directly on the spot," Novak told LN.

His dream is to have his own small factory where locals would be processing and packing up their moringa according to the EU standards to be able to dispatch it directly.

It will not be easy for the two Czechs to succeed with their business plan as they have strong competitors. Americans, Spaniards and Swedes are also trying to expand their business with moringa in Ethiopia.

Moreover, Italians intend to invest one million euros in the project of cultivating and growing moringa in South-western Ethiopia. They hope they will get this plant to the Ethiopian market to lower children's undernourishment, which is one of the reasons of high child mortality in this African country, LN writes.

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