Five Rundu men have embarked on a jam and juice making project that commenced in March 2008 using natural Namibian fruits.
Using local fruits such as matanga, marula, prickly pears, mutate and nonsive, the men started the project with assistance from Ministry of Gender Equality and Child Welfare, the Kavango Regional Council, Country Partnership Pilot (ccp) and the Environmental Investment Fund (EIF).
The secretary of the project, Erastus Mungenga said: “The Kavango Jam and Juice Project was an idea that came up in order to generate income through producing juice and jam from natural products.”
“With limited material at that time, we decided to go ahead with the project to create employment for ourselves and others by making money through selling bottles and jars of jam and fruit juices,” he said.
The project has about nine members at the moment with seven ladies and two men, each having their own responsibilities.
“Kavango Jam and Juice aims to uplift the livelihood of the local people to reduce the high number of unemployment, especially among the youth that is compounded by social problems and the temptation of alcohol and drugs in this area,” added Mungenga.
The vision of the project that is owned by dynamic young Namibians and based in Rundu at Matumbo Ribebe Recreation Centre a few kilometres northwest of Rundu Vocation Centre (RVTC), is to promote local natural products in the Namibian markets.
“Our project stands against cutting trees as we are only interested in harvesting and collecting fruits for jam and juices,” Mungenga said.
Fruits like marula, prickly pear and matanga are harvested only in winter and the rest are harvested anytime and kept in stores for later use.
They collect about 60kg of fruits, each for the marula and prickly pear that are placed in a pot added with sugar and other ingredients and make about 20 bottles of jam and juices. The matanga and mutate are only used for 100% fruit juice making.
After packaging, the products are taken to the Rundu Laboratory for testing before going on the markets. The products are packed in containers ordered from Plastic and Packaging in Windhoek and some from Shoprite outlets.
So far, the products are distributed to lodges, churches, hostels and the community. “We also go to expos and trade fairs to exhibit our products,” Mungenga stated.
Mungenge acknowledges that the project is not that big yet as they still need more equipment like pots, cutting machinery, gas, fridges and stoves. But it has been accepted by the community, “They are supporting our project fully and we appreciate it very much.”