Rosehip: the new ‘cash cow’

Rosehip: the new ‘cash cow’

MASERU – FOR years children across the country would risk being scratched and prickled by thorns to fill their basins or pockets with rosehip after school.
But today, the invasive species – a favourite snack for many – has become a precious commodity generating millions of maloti.

So far this year, Rosa Canina, a local company dealing in rosehip, has paid out over M12 million buying the indigenous fruit.
Prices range from M65 to M100 per 20 litre bucket depending on the season and demand.
Hundreds of Basotho men and women in rural areas are flocking the wilderness to collect rosehip to earn money to meet their financial needs.
They sell it to companies that export it to countries such as Germany, Japan, Canada and South Africa, where it is used as an ingredient to make tea, baby food, animal feed, herbal remedies and cosmetics.

When ’Makananelo Sekaleli found a job in 2013 to work at Rose Canina, she could not believe the nature of the company’s business.
“I was told that I would be handling rosehip and knowing the species from childhood, I did not understand how one could make money out of it,” Sekaleli says.
Six years later, Sekaleli, knowing the benefit of the species, tries by all means to educate people about nurturing the plant as a source of livelihood.
“Those in rural areas where the species is found in abundance know that except wool money they have rosehip money to take care of their household needs,” Sekaleli says.
Sekaleli, a widow and the breadwinner in a family of four, says her family depends on rosehip money to survive, something she had never imagined before.

“I have come to appreciate the species because of its benefits and it is very essential that others appreciate the species and refrain from harming it as it is some people’s bread,” she says.
According to Thabang Motsoasele, General Manager Rose Canina, the company employs 75 seasonal workers and 25 permanent workers.

Motsoasele told thepost that depending on orders, the company exports as much as two million kilograms of rosehip annually.
“We ship six containers a month, a container takes 880x25kg bags of rosehip weighing 22 000 kilograms,” Motsoasele says.
She says buyers use the specie for different reasons.

“One uses it to infuse it with rooibos for tea as it adds a sweet tangy taste that doesn’t need one to add sugar while drinking the tea,” she says, adding: “Another buyer uses the seeds to make cosmetic products like tissue oil, while some use it for baby food.”
There are about 22 000 rosehip collectors across the country who move across the country from April until October collecting rosehip.
They take the rosehip to district collection points where they get paid while the rosehip is taken to Rose Canina in Maseru for preparation before being exporting.

“The process starts with the collectors and as a company we make sure that we train our collectors because if they get it wrong from the beginning then it would affect the whole process and endanger our certification,” Motsoasele says.
She emphasises that hygiene is a key element in the business as the species is also used to make food items.

“Collectors know that they need to be clean and use clean buckets for collecting, washed only with water as soap can contaminate the product,” she says. “We do not buy rosehip from just anyone.”
Upon arrival at the centre, the rosehip is dried before undergoing a process of dissecting it into products demanded by the buyer, then packaged and shipped to buyers.
Some buyers only want the seeds, while others want shells only and some want both.

She said rosehip from Lesotho is loved for its organic quality hence they only buy rosehip from the wild because it grows without any pesticides or fertilizers.
She said some collectors had tried to cheat by crossing the river and picking rosehip from the South African side to sell it as Lesotho rosehip but they were able to pick that up due to systems and mechanisms in place.
Ha-Lejone and Motete in Leribe are said to have rosehip in abundance. However, other parts of the country such as Thaba-Tseka, Mphaki and Butha-Buthe also have the species in abundance.
Motsoasele says the business thrives on trust.

“The collectors have to trust that we will pay them amounts due to them and we have to trust them that they will supply us with the correct product,” she says.
“We always strive to give our staff 20 percent more than the minimum wage.”
Ntebaleng Ntsoilinyane, Traceability and Sustainability Manager for Rosa Canina, says it is important to trace the origin of rosehip as their customers are able to identify its origin in their labs.
“Rosehip is used for different products and our goal is to adhere to international standards as they are the foundation of the business,” Ntsoilinyane says.

“If something goes wrong along the value chain, it will affect the whole process hence we try as much as possible to ensure that everything runs accordingly,” she says.
There are three companies that deal mainly with the exportation of rosehip and another one manufactures cosmetic products using the plant.
“Interest in rosehip is definitely increasing in the country and even though we are the biggest company handling rosehip this calls for diversification of products that we can produce regionally and locally.”

Lemohang Rakotsoane

 

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