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Gluten free mahangu cookies

Back: Cristof Brock, CEO of the Namibian Agronomic Board, Lungameni Lucas, Namibian Agronomic Board Commodity Officer: Pearl Millet. Front: Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Hon. Petrus Iilonga, Grete Izak of GB Mahangu and Hon. John Mutorwa, Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry with samples of the cookies. (Photograph by Hilma Hashange)

Back: Cristof Brock, CEO of the Namibian Agronomic Board, Lungameni Lucas, Namibian Agronomic Board Commodity Officer: Pearl Millet. Front: Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Hon. Petrus Iilonga, Grete Izak of GB Mahangu and Hon. John Mutorwa, Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry with samples of the cookies. (Photograph by Hilma Hashange)

A brand of locally produced mahangu cookies have finally recieved new packaging and are soon expected to hit the shelves of local supermarkets. The classy and glamorous package was revealed at the recent Mahangu Festival, Oshipe, held in Ohangwena in August. The cookies are made from pure mahangu flour and come in four flavours, Oatmeal, Biscuits(short bread), plain cookies and cookies with nuts.
Consumer research carried out during the 2011 Annual Ongwediva Trade Fair and the Windhoek Agricultural Show proved that the cookies are of good quality and have great market potential. “In fact, we could not even supply enough at the 2012 Annual Ongwediva Trade Fair as all the cookies were sold out in the first two hours, which further shows just how delicious the cookies are,” exclaimed Minister of Agriculture, Water and Forestry Hon. John Mutorwa at the launch of the mahangu cookies last week.
Mutorwa added that producing mahangu cookies will add value to indigenous mahangu flour, saying that agriculture has the ability to promote activities towards Vision 2030. According to Vignir Jonsson, a marketing and production consultant, the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry and the Namibian Agronomic Board had a project in mahangu marketing and value adding from 2010 to 2012.
Jonsson further explained the concept behind the idea of the mahangu cookies. “The public was asked to come up with different recipes for new products made from mahangu and in April 2011, two women came to the ministry with cookies made from mahangu. Everyone within the ministry was very impressed and decided to support them to go forward with their product. From there some equipment were sourced and the company GB Mahangu Enterprises was formed,” said Jonsson. Five employees are currently employed at the production site in Rehoboth. GB Mahangu Enterprises also deals with the packaging of the cookies.
The new packaging is one of the solutions to meet the unexpected demand after the cookies became available in supermarkets in 2011. Jonsson said that GB Mahangu was faced with numerous operational restrictions such as a health certificate and production accreditation before Fruit and Veg supermarket could agree to stock and sell the cookies.
Nutritional value and dietary information were determined at the Ministry’s Product Development Laboratory and to assure the safety and quality to the consumers, the cookies were tested at an accredited laboratory in South Africa where they met all health and quality standards.” The idea is to sell the cookies in stores for N$13.49, however, GB Mahangu has a price for the retail stores who then will add VAT and their own mark-up, so prices may vary,” Jonsson added.
“Mahangu is a very healthy grain and we believe the cookies are a healthy snack compared to most other cookies whose main ingredient is plain flour, sugar and fat. It is also our belief that the flavor of mahangu is popular with a very large part of the population in Namibia,” he emphasised.
Mahangu (pearl millet) is a staple food grown in the northern parts f the country. Its highly nutritious, gluten free and does not form acid and it is soothing, making it easy to digest. It is rich in vitamins such as Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B and minerals such as iron, magnesium, phosphorus, copper and manganese. Mahangu also contains Phytic acid, believed to lower cholesterol and Phytates, which is associated with reducing cancer risk.

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