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A miniature expo into the food industry



Own Correspondent


TOO sweet, too salty, overcooked, undercooked… these are some of the remarks that kept fourth year National University of Lesotho (NUL) BSc Consumer Science and Nutrition students on their toes.

After weeks of tiresome planning, recipe formulation, cooking, tasting and perfecting their products through multiple trials and sleepless nights, their products were finally revealed.

The interfaculty presentations held between the faculties of agriculture and health sciences was a miniature expo of the food industry products developed with pride by the NUL recently.

Palesa Monoto scooped the first prize in the BSc Consumer Science programme with a delectable variation of jam flavours – the cactus pear and quince jams.

The lentil pumpkin cereal, a weaning food product developed by Maria Thoola, was in second place.

Moliehi Mohapinyane walked away with the third prize for her sorghum mint and ginger biscuits.

The finalists for the BSc Nutrition programme were three ladies who developed a product of their own kind, the Nutty, fruit leather. The trio, Mphainyana Mphafi, Nnoko Nkoala and Selloane Tšoanku went above and beyond to make a fruit roll like no other.

Dr Pulane Nkhabutlane, a lecturer in the Faculty of Agriculture, explained the significance of creativity in the Nutrition and Consumer Science disciplines.

“Students are expected to be innovative, think very hard and present topics which are very unique. They should be able to use low carbohydrate resources, locally available and cheap food sources,” Nkhabutlane said.

“They can help Basotho have small businesses especially women to have entrepreneurship skills in both urban and rural areas,” she said.

The waves of innovation are not only flowing towards the food industry in the consumer sciences. The flamboyant mannequin display of apparel was evidence of the students’ multi-skills and innovative minds at work.

Papali Maqalika-Mokobori noted that textile and apparel draping was one of the many skills that students had to acquire in the BSc Consumer Sciences programmme as their work is consumer oriented.

This is one of the programmes that offer a diverse set of skills to meet the variety of consumer needs.

Also impressed was the NUL Registrar Liteboho Maqalika-Lerotholi. She expressed her gratitude in seeing the students being given a platform to showcase their work.

Hailing the innovation pledge, she commended the faculties for facilitating such creativeness for the learners.

“Not many people think NUL makes usable products; they think it is all about reading books,” Maqalika-Lerotholi said.

“This is an indication that we are making progress,” she said.

Although she stressed the need for students to hone in on their presentation skills, she further pointed to the need to address the prospect of production beyond the university where equipment may be lacking.

An array of food products on display included an amaranth (theepe) based roulade, made with a touch of modern cuisine.

’Mamokete Nkuka, who developed the amaranth, tuna, beans and potato roulade, explained that she wanted to use the dish to show people that theepe, although an indigenous vegetable, is not poor people’s food.

Many people miss out on this nutrient-rich vegetable because they do not know how to incorporate it into a sophisticated and healthy dish.

To further tantalise taste buds with a prickle pear was Nopal super juice, with a variety of nutritional benefits, made by Mpho Letsie’s group.

Refiloe Makhetha’s trout fish bites and Nyalleng Moqoko’s fish and vegetable sticks were an endeavour to tap into one of the least used fish sources in the country.

“Lipabi,” powder ground form roasted maize is a traditional snack that was explored.

Maleshoane Pokatha and ’Mampoi Masupha came up with snacks based on this famous maize product.

Gluten intolerant people were catered for through Rethabile Rakoro’s yellow maize meal apple cake.

The cake was not only an unthinkable combination but also scrumptiously sweet.

Rose hips (’morobei) is another under-utilized fruit that found its way to the display arena. ’Mateboho Mokhothoane created a Rose hip ice tea, a tasty beverage to quench thirst on a hot day.

Margaret Moroka, an official from the Ministry of Education, on behalf of the Technical and Vocational Department, expressed a sense of applaud for the initiative NUL was doing in offering applied science.

“This is a very important route as these skills equip students to create jobs and not to become job seekers, in this era of joblessness,” Moroka said.

A renowned local chef, Sekamotho Moteane, was very pleased with the locally developed products, especially the “trout” dishes.

Moteane indicated that about 80 percent of our fish is consumed on the international markets while we barely include local fish in our meals.

Using locally available resources to create enticing dishes looks like a less complicated way to combat hunger that the country is facing, especially with the impending food crisis following the heat wave.

Food is a life necessity that has a rather economic significance.

The BSc Consumer Sciences and Nutrition students tried their best to bridge the gap between nutritional value and price by creating foods with valuable nutrients at affordable prices with the hope of industrialising some of their products.

Most of these food products were on display at the 2nd annual Lesotho Science and Innovation Expo.


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