In order to develop products from indigenous resources and create new markets for them, it is important to empower women, farmers and relevant students with information which enables them to start thinking innovatively about food and food products. Business skills and scientific awareness as well as connections with food manufacturers can be of great help to these stakeholders.
To contribute towards this empowerment, a Food Co-creation and Innovation Workshop developed and delivered by Pharmakine Consulting in collaboration with University of East Finland (UEF) was held in Pretoria from 28 to 31 August 2017 with funding from SANBio. It brought together 20 female participants from the SADC region (specifically from Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe) who were selected through a competitive admission process. The participants had to be entrepreneurs in the food business or young graduates with potential to start their own businesses in the food industry.
The 4-day programme was an interdisciplinary course with a theory component of 2 days and a 2-day practical component. The course was facilitated by a panel of experts from South Africa and Finland who introduced the participants to all stages of product development from farm to fork, covering topics such as global food security, indigenous knowledge food systems, food product development and processing, and food innovation and intellectual property rights. All of these technical topics were covered at an accessible level and in an interactive manner.
The practical classes were held at the BICSA Bakery & Food Technology Incubator, where the participants were divided into groups of three and challenged to formulate and prepare food products incorporating indigenous ingredients. The participants had access to kitchen and bakery facilities at which they could make the products with ingredients of their choice. The preparation was completed on the final day, and the participants exhibited their products at a food show organized at the Innovation Hub (a co-sponsor of the workshop). Members of the public were invited to test and taste the various products which included an aloe fruit juice, ice cream, herbal teas and soups, and bread with mopane worms. Other products made included flours from cassava mixed with mopane worms, millet and baobab porridge etc.
All of the products incorporated indigenous ingredients in novel ways which even surprised the participants themselves!
“The knowledge gained on product branding will assist me in branding my product,” commented a participant from Zambia. “It was nice working with peoples from different countries, working with young people and learning about marketing,” another participant from Lesotho remarked.
Link to image album.