Remember what we said about Zimbabwe having so many natural resources for any willing entrepreneurs to take advantage of to boost the health of our country and economy? Well….we are not finished yet! Read on….
Even More Holistipreneurs Being Called
Many opportunities exist for innovative Zimbabwean entrepreneurs and farmers to advance our economy through leveraging our natural resources in western markets. As a continuation of our previous blog on holistipreneurship (that is entrepreneurship in the natural lifestyle market) in the motherland, here are a few ideas that need more extensive development or are yet to be established at all.
Hemp and Flax
Hemp is a super crop that provides so many benefits. Be it the high quality oil that is chock full of omegas for dietary consumption as well as cosmeceutical applications, or the high strength fibers that the plant itself produces, hemp is definitely a hot product. There are hundreds – I kid you not – uses for hemp. Hemp is easier and cheaper to produce than soybeans and much more beneficial. It is GMO free, has few natural enemies and thus is easily grown without pesticides.
Hemp plants exist that have low strains of THC for those who are opposed to marijuana cultivation. What makes this a particularly hot item is that one of the biggest markets for hemp seeds, oil and fibers is the United States, where hemp is illegal to grow! This is code for HUGE EXPORT OPPORTUNITY!
Linen from flax fibers as well as flax seeds themselves are another great opportunity. Flax seeds are highly nutritious and together with hemp seeds can be used to alleviate malnutrition through ground seed meals and seed milks.
Essential Oils and Distillates
These items will never go out of style. They have been in use since the days of Cleopatra in ancient Egypt. They are even hotter now and will only increase in popularity and availability as more people become educated about their benefits. The burgeoning organic cosmetics industry uses billions of dollars worth of essential oils and distillates in their natural formulations every year, plus millions of people worldwide who use them personally for their own health and household maintenance purposes.
Herbs are very resilient and easy to grow. We already know that citruses grow astoundingly well in Zimbabwe, yet we throw away the peels of these fruits without harvesting the oils. The bitter orange tree which yields neroli distillate and essential oil is one of the most widely used botanicals in perfumery (as well as one of the most expensive) could easily be cultivated in orange groves in the optimal climatic zones. Distillers and other necessary equipment are not such difficult investments to make. If one can invest the money in a distiller and bottling supplies, grow some herbs and flowers (preferably organically) and organize a labor structure (preferably fair-trade), you will always have a hot export item. Potential botanicals include but are not limited to;
Rose, jasmine, bitter orange, sweet orange, lemon, lavender, rosemary, basil and mint.
The website Health.com defines superfoods as follows:
“Though there is no legal or medical definition, superfoods are nutrient powerhouses that pack large doses of antioxidants, polyphenols, vitamins, and minerals. Eating them may reduce the risk of chronic disease, and prolong life, and people who eat more of them are healthier and thinner than those who don’t. “
There are many indigenous foods that Zimbabweans eat that would easily fit into this definition but are yet to come to the awareness of the international market. Furthermore, there are superfoods that are easy to cultivate, like mazhanje, barley and wheat grasses, spirulina and chlorella, that would be of great benefit to the malnourished, to AIDS and cancer patients and that we would much prefer to see as substitutes in every primary school to the usual milk program.
Check out this spirulina project in West Africa, that was posted a while back on the Spirulina Junkie blog. (Courtney’s website also has more detailed information on the nutritional exceptionalism of spirulina.) Please bear in mind that we are not advocating all the methods used in this project, as there are other less controversial ways of growing spirulina and chlorella. In any case, the desired outcome is the same.
Completely nutrient dense superior food for pennies a day. This food can be marketed regionally, and even internationally if grown in the right volumes. Powdered superfood mixes in the US retail on average between $35 to $85 for a months supply. (These morning and afternoon shakes will change your life by the way for you diasporans. Ditch the donuts and coffee and go nuclear with superfood shakes – but that is a whole other blog LOL.)
Then there is the good old University of Zimbabwe. Decades ago they had a program that worked with traditional healers to document, research, better understand and encourage the use of our traditional, indigenous medicines. I am sure that there is a wealth of under-utilized information there, that can be used to market amazing herbs and foods that the world, beyond our borders, is yet to see.
Granted, the marketing potential of this is enormous, but the transformative element for our health, our esteem as Zimbabweans about the goodness, wisdom and bounty we have to offer the world and the chance to elevate our standard of life for everyone (not just the rich) with dignity through right livelihood, is priceless.
*Images: farmlandgrab.com, trulyhemp.com, wellandgoodnyc.com, thewellnesswarrior.com, s3.amazanaws.com
*If you haven’t seen our relaunched website, take a peek here.