WINDHOEK, May 26 (Xinhua) -- For years, Laimi Shikongo, a resident of Elombe village in northern Namibia, would not have even thought about making a business from home using indigenous marula fruit, which is very juicy and aromatic and is the size of a small plum.
Training in fruit processing and marketing, however, has changed her life for the better.
In the Southern African country, one marula tree can produce up to 500 kg of fruit in a year. Local people traditionally extract juice from marula fruit by hand as marula trees in a village yield much more fruit than what local people could process.
In the past, Shikongo had to throw away the unused amount of the fruit, which was quite an expensive piece of waste.
Throwing out marula fruit means loss of income and nutrition, she said, adding that after extracting the juice, she could also sell roasted marula kernels, which have a delicious taste, and earn money.
To make full use of the marula fruit, Shikongo attended a training early this year on making jam from the indigenous marula fruits, offered by Ongwediva Rural Development Center, a government-run entity in northern Namibia.
The training provides guidance on making jam, industry standards, storage and processing techniques using local ingredients as well as resources readily accessible to the community.
Bilha Iipumbu, a coordinator at the center, said Friday that the training rolled out in 2020 aims to help rural communities increase their income.
"Most often seasonal fruits such as marula and wild berries go to waste due to plenty supply in a season. The aim is to help villagers adopt better practices and use indigenous fruits to improve their livelihoods," Iipumbu said.
Moreover, the training addresses knowledge gaps, teaching villagers about marketing skills.
After the training, "I can feed my family and feel empowered in adding value to what we disposed of and wasted for so many years," Shikongo said.
Processing jam has ripple effects on dwellers. More than 200 local people like Shikongo have gained the skills to start a business and support their communities.
According to Iipumbu, the training course also teaches marketing strategies and pricing to help local households sell jams in the market. It enables the communities to boost agricultural productivity.
"We do this through synergy and partnering with local leaders and institutions. Our goal is to empower rural communities," Iipumbu said. ■