I want Oshigali for my pap!
Indigenous food and dishes are growing in popularity but with the exception of milled mahango, they are not widely available as pre-packed consumer items.
Oshuulo Trading Enterprises, a recipient of a Merit Certificate in the recent Development Bank of Namibia Innovation awards hopes to buck the trend with a range of canned black beans, known as Okalunya, and a canned beaned relish known as Oshigali.
BIA Investments, also a recipient of a Certificate of Merit, proposed a product in the food manufacturing category, a packaged, flavoured breakfast serial manufactured from mahangu.
Speaking about the projects, DBN Manager of Corporate Communications, Jerome Mutumba said the plans have sound potential development impact, adding that increased demand for the locally grown beans and mahango will stimulate additional agricultural production, particularly in regions where they are traditional crops.
Talking about sustainability of supply, Mutumba said that the initiatives are not expected to reduce supply in areas where they are staples or mainstay crops, but that they will stimulate additional agronomic activity.
He offered the widespread uptake of existing packaged, milled mahango as proof. The new products, he said, will translate into additional income generation and seasonal employment in rural communal areas. Greater demand for Okalunya will enable producers to diversify their incomes and improve income security.
Mutumba noted that the projects will fulfill the requirement of employment by employing a combination of skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled labour alongside appropriate technology for producing high-quality manufactured foods. Looking at available markets for the product he said that the project promoters have done their homework in identifying the retail trade and government institutions as probable sources of demand.
Mutumba is of the opinion that traditional Namibian foods need a different marketing approach pointing out that many crops are either unique to certain regions, or that the same food is prepared in a different manner unique to each region.
Because of entrenched preferences, the most likely food marketing strategy has to find a balance between marketing in an area where the dish is already well-known, and then targeting migrant populations from those areas, before targeting new markets where a particular dish or style of preparation, are not known or appreciated.
One of the major barriers to local food-manufacturing and marketing are the large local retailers who prefer to stock imported products which are known to sell well, rather than providing shelf space to local brands which may have a lower turnover at introduction, but grow over time.