A ‘pot’ to  jump-start us into industrial phase!

A ‘pot’ to jump-start us into industrial phase!

ROMA – This National University of Lesotho (NUL) made pot, branded “Pitsa,” looks simple but it is not your normal pot! Because of its numerous uses, it may as well be the pot that marks the start of Lesotho’s industrialisation.
“The list of things that one can produce from this pot is endless,” says Setlhare Jane who along with his research team members, Lesia Matlali and ‘Marethabile Jane, have been working on Pitsa for quite some time.

The list includes wine, beer, yoghurt, soft drinks, soft sour porridge (motoho), sour milk (mafi), pasteurized milk, soft bread (maqebekoane), dough (hlama e betseng), starter culture (tomoso), malt (‘mela), skin creams, skin lotions, medicinal mixtures, shoe and floor polishes, soaps, green manure, seedlings (sethopo), biogas and many others.
Plans are already underway to make this pot available on the market under the NUL Innovation Hub.

It doesn’t have to be a small pot, it can be big, very big. And it can take any shape to meet your manufacturing needs.
“Many people wonder why we are unable to make a host of products (like the ones mentioned above) in Lesotho,” Jane says.
“The situation is so bad that one big South African company is making “motoho” (our own product) for us.”
“It turns out the secret was in this pot.”

Pitsa is designed to control temperature and that says it all. Temperature control, Jane says, “is the single most important component of numerous manufacturing processes and that fact eludes most people.”

Temperature control is an open secret. For instance, “it is estimated that a whopping 50 percent of the awe-inspiring energy used in the United States is used in temperature control!”
That tells you something.
So how shall Pitsa change Lesotho?

The pot is addressing two issues that are at the heart of our failed attempts to set up manufacturing industries in Lesotho.
First, our products are unprofessional (ke tsa maiketsetso) because they are done under uncontrolled circumstances. The same brand of motoho today has a different taste tomorrow because it has now been made under different temperatures (e entsoe ka mollo). Unfortunately, the market hates changing products under one brand.

In manufacturing, the right temperature is not negotiable. Make it lower and your processes slow down or don’t happen. Make it higher and you destroy taste, colour, texture or functionality.
Getting just the right temperature and keeping it there until the process is over works wonders. And, (don’t tell anyone about this) temperature control is the secret of many large professional manufacturing brands.

Second, we fail to mass-produce (re hlahisa ka sono). That is because we have no access to proper and large sized processing equipment.
If we do manage to buy that equipment elsewhere, repair becomes just as expensive as buying a new equipment because we have to import technicians who will do the repairs. Maintenance gets impossible.

But this machine will be made locally and repaired locally.
Then we shall allow Pitsa to do its magic. Here is how.
Think about the numerous fermented foods of Lesotho that requires Pitsa to get them right and which we should have learned to commercialise a long time ago.
Most of the “motoho” that Basotho have put on the market leaves a lot to be desired. Actually, they are “leshelesheshele” (soft porridge) disguised as “motoho” because the sour taste is made up by addition of a commercial chemical called citric acid.

“This machine will first help you produce starter cultures (tomoso) first and within the time required for the culture to be okay,” Jane says.
“Then it will assist you to ferment “motoho” to a required taste.”

As temperature affects taste, it’s up to you to decide on the best taste by setting the right temperature and the duration.
Those who have ever tried to make the original “motoho” know how cold temperatures wreak havoc in Lesotho’s legendary cold winter months. That will be a thing of the past.
How do you make “maqebekoane”; one of the freshest and most popular meals in Lesotho? You mix yeast with flour and make dough. Then you “hope” that the dough will rise, should the temperatures be right.

“That kind of practice is just not going to work if we are serious about producing “maqebekoane” on a large commercial scale,” Jane says.
Pitsa will not only assist with raising the dough as fast as possible, it will also help you cook the “maqebekoane” by generating the right steam at the right temperature!
The same story can be said about “mafi,” “ting” and “sekhakabolo.” We can make these products if we apply Pitsa on a large scale.

Think about more; beer and wine. Pitsa will not only assist you to get the taste of these products nice and intact, it will also help you in the production of the malt (‘mela) fast and reliably.
There is more. Many people just love yoghurt. Well, Pitsa can make it too. It can both pasteurize your milk and produce yoghurt quickly.
It goes further. Most skin creams and lotions are made in an environment requiring temperatures in which Pitsa operate. Thus, once you have the right ingredients, you can make these out of Pitsa. As we said, the list is endless.

Own Correspondent

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