MASERU- National University of Lesotho (NUL) launched its new yogurt brand ‘Sebabatso’ produced by students from the Department of Animal Science in the Faculty of Agriculture last week.
The project was made possible through a donation of M700, 000 by Metropolitan Lesotho to NUL last year to establish a yoghurt processing unit.
For this project, NUL had to reposition itself on how to respond to emerging needs of the university and the community around them. The university had to reconfigure towards a business model. It therefore constituted a unit called Business Hub which serves to oversee all intentions of the university towards creating businesses.
Head of the Animal Science department Dr Puleng Matebesi indicated that the idea of manufacturing yogurt started way back in the laboratories where they were doing some research.
“When we realized that we can be able to manufacture yogurt we went to talk to the Dean about this project. At that time production wasn’t doing well as we were using a pot to cook the yogurt and we were able to produce only 25 litres of yogurt per week,” she said.
Matebesi said when they took samples of the yogurt to an expo that held at Pioneer Mall last year and to their surprise everybody loved the yogurt. They then approached the Dean to ask for funds to buy them equipment that would help them produce the product in large quantities.
“Through Metropolitan we are now able to produce 250 to 300 litres of yogurt a day. The milk that is used to manufacture yogurt comes from the faculty farm and it is expected that as demand increases a satellite of small farmers in Roma village and beyond will also supply us,” she said .
She added that the university would work with the famers in terms of the feeding strategies for their cows and approaches needed to produce high quality milk for yogurt manufacturing as the milk is tested for quality before being used.
Managing Director Metropolitan Lesotho Nkau Matete said the fact that the community is also involved in the project is what propelled them to invest in it.
“We want our brand to be involved in community based projects. This project will also assist the university to be less depended on the taxpayer’s money,” he said.
NUL Vice Chancellor Professor Nqosa Mahao said the university had now come up with innovations that help to empower both communities and the students.
“Our scientific community in campus begin to take their scientific discovery to women and men in the village to change their living circumstances. Now a villager with a herd of cattle has a market to supply milk,” he said.
Mahao noted that the university wants to be a player in the food security challenges that the country is currently facing.
“As a university time and again we are asked to create revenue from expertise that they have and this project is one of the ways we will achieve that goal. There is a huge gap between the interfaces linking the higher education sector in a corporate world,” he said.
He also commended Metropolitan Lesotho for donating to the project as that indicate a progressive leadership in the corporate sector.
Mahao also highlighted that the university has over 40 innovations and inventions waiting for those who have resources to invest in so that they can be developed into real products and sold around the world.
He said there is not a single country in the world that has developed by importing everything it uses in its domestic environment.
“Our historical challenge is to keep that money circulating in the domestic economy to create opportunities of employment and to enhance the physical liability of the economy,” he said.