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Sorghum biscuits!



ROMA – THE National University of Lesotho (NUL) community was thrown into commotion last week as the Department of Consumer Science released the crispiest biscuits into the market.
Everyone wanted to get a taste, but there just wasn’t enough for everyone.
“They are not only yummy, they are, in fact, the healthiest biscuits of choice out there,” says a team of incubates developing the biscuits, Palesa Teke, ’Matlotliso Kotsoro and ’Makabelo Pita.
They produce and sell rusks and biscuits from sorghum, and biscuits and cakes from maize in a project that has captivated the entire university community.
If you haven’t eaten them, you’ve missed a lot!

“One advantage of being at NUL during these exciting times of innovation is that you (will want) to get the first taste,” says one elated biscuit enthusiast after purchasing quite a few rusks.
Notice why this project is, indeed, a big deal!  “The products are made from crops that most Basotho grow—maize and sorghum, hence a huge market for Basotho agricultural products is in the making,” Teke says.

The incubation of the biscuits started after NUL, together with the University of Pretoria (UP) and Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Sciences (BUAN) became the “fearsome threesome” after winning nearly M1 million from SANbio-BioFISA Flagship Grant Competition.
So are the products a healthy choice?  Most biscuits are made from wheat.  Yes, when you go out there, it’s wheat, wheat, wheat and wheat! The modern food industry has turned us into “wheat addicts”! Lo and behold! That is about to change!

The maize and sorghum biscuits are wheat-free! And that is a big deal — because here is the truth about wheat.
It is has a substance called gluten to which many people are allergic and results in coeliac disease, whether they know it or not.
But listen to this — sorghum and maize don’t have that problem.

So when you buy those crunchy NUL-made biscuits, you are going a long way into making yourself a healthier person.
Right?  But more importantly, those gluten free snacks are nothing but exceptional in the department of taste.
And here is how one fanatic likes to put it: “Few things on this planet Earth can beat the taste of NUL Sorghum Rusks eaten with NUL made Sebabatso Yogurt.”
Apparently, getting the two in one package can send you into the seventh heaven.

So where did it all begin?
“It started when I saw big news shared on my wall on Facebook,” ’Matlotliso Kotsoro says.  The heading of the news went like, “Why NUL & Company won the SANbio-BioFISA Flagship Grant Competition,” by NUL Research and Innovations.  As former students of Consumer Science, they were happy about the achievements of their passionate teacher, Dr Pulane Nkhabutlane, who was among the winners.  Little did they know that they would be called to be part of this extraordinary project under Dr Nkhabutlane’s supervision.
The next thing these former Consumer Science students received a call from NUL.

“We were asked to come for interviews so they could select the best graduates to incubate,” ’Makabelo Pita says.
“Unfortunately, I was still a student, doing just one course here, but I tried my luck,” she says.
“When I heard I was among those selected to be incubated, I was literally shocked. I didn’t believe I made it!”
The competition went from 23 applicants, to 10 applicants and then it boiled down to the three incubates we have today.
Why did they win?

“It was not so much about whether we were good in academic performance as it was about whether we would be good entrepreneurs,” Teke says.
“Apparently, the judges thought we met that criteria and here we are.”
The early stages weren’t easy though.

While their intention is partly to empower locals by buying sorghum from them, the flour is hard to come by.
So they end up buying commercial flour.  “If we do get the flour at all, it comes in all kinds of varieties and each variety makes different biscuits,” Kotsoro says.
So it took them some time to get the products’ quality right.

“We need local suppliers who will supply only one variety of sorghum for the whole year to maintain quality,” adds Pita.
Their efforts are, apparently, paying off.  “Everyone wants a piece of our biscuits now,” Palesa says with a smile.
“We are amazed by the excitement at the university.”

So you feel like you are missing a lot by being a bit far from NUL? No worries, if you order in bulk, these ladies promise they would take care of you!
Now it’s time to meditate on this.

If you thought maize was for ‘papa’ (hardened porridge) only and sorghum for ‘motoho’ and ‘lesheleshele’ only, it’s time to rethink.
These ladies are slowly and carefully redrawing the boundaries long considered to be fixed and permanent.

Own Correspondent

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