In Silobela village, Kwekwe district, central Zimbabwe, mongongo kernels are the new cash crop for communities. More than 150 individuals now sell kernels to Bio-Innovation Zimbabwe.
Thembelani Sibanda, 39, from Mpinda Community, was facing serious economic hardships, having to rely on her husband’s erratic income from firewood sales for the family’s needs.
Mongongo fruits are well known in her area. In addition to making cooking oil from the nuts, Thembelani is also experienced at turning the pulp from the fruit into a tasty beer or porridge during times of drought.
She is amazed at how much money can also be made from the accessible and abundant fruits!
From her first batch of shelled nuts, Thembelani made USD 267 which covered school fees for her 5 children and paid for a bicycle for her youngest son who has to cycle 7km to and from school daily.
As the crops failed this year again due to lack of rains, Thembelani’s mongongo earnings also provided enough money to buy 6 bags of grain for the family.
Thembelani proudly notes that since she now contributes to the family’s income, her husband accepts her decisions.