North East District launches economic development drive

* Million dollar Morula oil business in the pipeline

They say money does not grow on trees. Well, the opposite will soon happen in the North East District as a huge Morula oil processing plant is anticipated to start operations towards the end of 2020 in Makaleng village. The oil, contained in Morula kernels has been stunningly acclaimed as the “miracle oil” for hair and skin.

A Google search on the benefits of Morula oil yields an ocean of information, topping the search being “Morula oil is high in antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and amino acids. It’s widely used as an ingredient in skin care products, and appears to be beneficial for oily, acne-prone, dry, and aging skin. It’s also effective at keeping hair soft, supple, and moisturized.”

The project is part of the North East District’s recently adopted commercial strategy dubbed Local Economic Development (LED), to improve the livelihoods’ of its communities. The strategy will exploit abundant agricultural, forestry and dam resources in the area to launch medium and long term projects.

The five-year strategy which, according to finance and development officer Baswadzi Gaotingwe commences this November is a result of a thorough resources analysis in the area. It lists a number of development projects with beneficiation to communities such as the already mentioned Morula oil processing billed for Makaleng.

Gaotingwe, who is the LED champion says implementation of the Morula processing has already received community support in the form of operational spaces.

“The role of the community in this projects will be beyond provision of labour. Already, we have secured a community hall in Makaleng and warehouses in Tati Siding to be used as operational spaces.  These are from the community,” she said.

The Morula oil processing plant is expected to successfully takeoff as the council has already learnt from a twinning and benchmark agreement with Swaziland’s Piggs Peak town, renowned for its flourishing Morula processing business. The Piggs Peak project currently supplies the UK and USA export markets.

“The benefits to the community go beyond employment creation, the greatest outcome in this will be a skilled workforce within our district, as such- they will be empowered,” explains Gaotingwe.

The area is home to plenty of Morula trees. While this project was discussed recently at the council chambers headquartered in Masunga, concerns over sustainable development topped the agenda. However, it was clarified that Morula kernels would be collected beyond the North East region in areas like Gweta- endowed with Morula trees.

“This country has many Morula trees, stretching from Maun up Kanye in Southern Botswana. It is time we use our resources to generate income and opportunities,” retorted council secretary, Motshwariemang Matsheka.

He further committed to “allocating human capital and resources equitably for implementation, monitory and evaluation of the strategy”.

Other projects will be a glass recycling in Tatisiding, a cultural village at Jackals 1 and as well as a series of cross-sectoral coordinated food security projects involving fodder production, beekeeping, fish farming and mophane worm farming in Matlopi, Ditladi, Mbalambi, Botalaote, Sechele and Kalakamati villages.

Besides the cultural village and lodge for Jackals 1, the district will capitalize on the village’s proximity to Ramokgwebana border and develop a truck-inn there. Likewise, Mbalambi fish farm- will benefit from the village’s closeness to Ntimbale dam. This project, is expected to improve dietary standards of communities as well since fish is not a popular aspect of meals in the area.

Another project, as explained in the strategy would be “improvement of the image and aesthetics of street vendors in Masunga”. Recognizing the role of the informal sector as a major source of employment and income, especially to women in the district, their operational space will be transformed into “vibrant and suitable ones for their activities’ requirements”.

These projects are also aligned to the COVID-19 pandemic national economic recovery plan, explains North East Council chairperson, Florah Mpetsane.

“The fact that this is an inward looking plan which exploits both natural and human resources in the district at a time when the economy is at its knees due to the corona virus makes it feed to the greater national economic recovery plan,” she says.  Further expounding that all government ministries and parastatals have appeared before the Council to showcase how their services are responding to economic recovery needs at the moment.