My Zambia My African a Marketing company owned by a Zambian entrepreneur has partnered with Humanity Africa, a charity registered in the United Kingdom to train Zambians working in farm communities in Mkushi and Lusaka in Central and Lusaka provinces respectively on the art of solar fruit drying.
During a meeting held with the Deputy Head of Mission, Patricia Chanda, My-Zambia My-Africa founder Leya Kawamba and her co-founder Joel O’Loughlin shared their ideas on a project they are calling My-Mango My-Zambia which involves training local communities to dry and preserve mangoes.
Ms. Kawamba, said that once Zambians master the technique of successfully drying Mangoes, they can apply the principle to other fruits such as pineapples.
“ Mangoes grown and harvested in Zambia are wasted due to a lack of storage and processing capacity when in season, subsequently, the fruit is not available out of season, in addition, the mounds of decomposing fruit then become a hazard to public health and the environment”, she said.
She emphasized, on the point that drying mangos is a value added measure which has the potential to pave way for the fruit to be packaged and exported within the SADC, the European Union and United Kingdom markets.
“Solar drying fruit is the most obvious and simplest solution to avoiding waste, moreover, it is cost effective and available to everyone. It is an affordable technology, uses only renewable energy (the sun), adds value, extends shelf life, makes fruits easier to export and prevents waste at the point where it is grown.
“ Zambians can dry the fruit primarily to supplement their family’s diet in lean times, especially as a treat for their children.
“ The health benefits are great because the mango fruit is rich in dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Any excess dried mango can be sold locally to boost household incomes,” said Ms. Kawamba.
Ms. Kawamba said , the dried fruits sector in Zambia is under-developed yet the techniques are easy to learn, “ so very little is preventing us from making this transformative change.”
The My-Zambia My-Africa founder also expressed interest in working with the Zambia High Commission to attract potentials partners who can provide Zambians with the skill of processing the Mango fruit into dry product through the My-Mango project.
And speaking at the same meeting Ms. Chanda said the initiative by My-Zambia My-Africa came at the right time when President Edgar Chagwa Lungu has called on the importance of promoting value addition through the establishment of projects such as the Mango processing facility in the Eastern Province.
She said the diaspora play an important and strategic role in national development adding that the diaspora form a pool of skilled human capacity, the critical means through which the country can learn from.