SMALLHOLDER dairy farmers in the Roma valley and beyond are set to benefit by becoming part of the value chain in the production of Sebabatso Yoghurt, a local brand developed by the National University of Lesotho’s (NUL) Faculty of Agriculture.
The yoghurt factory, which is located within NUL premises, was officially launched yesterday by officials who included NUL Vice Chancellor Professor Nqosa Mahao and financing partners Metropolitan Lesotho among others. It will require a daily input of 200 litres of milk.
The yoghurt project is currently at a market assessment stage where it is sold at outlets around the campus and few dealers in Maseru for a period of six months.
It comes in three flavours, namely mixed berries, strawberries and fruit cocktail.
Prof. Mahao said the yoghurt project would inculcate a spirit of entrepreneurship and income generation among the community.
“Our scientific community here on campus is beginning to take their scientific discoveries to the men and women out in the village with the view of changing the life circumstances of villagers,” Prof. Mahao said.
“This means that if you are a villager who has a herd of cattle, you now have a market where you can supply the milk and in the process make decent money. In that way the university is beginning to be a player in resolving the food security challenge that the country faces.”
He also paid homage to Metropolitan Lesotho for injecting M700 000 into the project, saying they were trendsetters in the corporate world where such initiatives seldom occurred.
Metropolitan Lesotho funded the acquisition of the state-of-the-art factory equipment as part of a long partnership that is aimed at enabling NUL to increase the scale of yoghurt production.
“We know too well that we would not have walked this distance if it were not for Metropolitan Lesotho who demonstrated progressive leadership.
“There is a huge gap between institutions of higher learning and the corporate world, yet Metropolitan have navigated so seamlessly. They are the trendsetters in showing what should be happen with the rest of the corporate sector,” Prof Mahao said.
For his part, the Managing Director of Metropolitan Lesotho, Nkau Matete, who is also a former student in the faculty of agriculture at NUL, said they were proud to be associated with a sustainable project that would impact positively in the lives of the community.
“We like to partner in projects that have the potential to benefit members of the community. We are therefore delighted to be part of this project that involves assisting our farming community,” Mr Matete said.
He said it was their hope that the proceeds from the project would also go a long way in assisting the university gaining financial independence so that it could embark on its developmental priorities at its convenience.
According to the head of Department of Animal Science, Puleng Matebesi, the production of yogurt in the Faculty of Agriculture started as a research concept in the Department of Animal Science due to the nature of its programme which involved, among its six key areas, livestock products processing.
She said it then developed into a small processing unit which produced 25 litres of yoghurt per week due to unavailability of the resources that facilitate high production.
But through Metropolitan Lesotho’s financial assistance, the unit acquired equipment that enables it to process 250 litres of yogurt per day.