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Donkey milk on supermarket shelves

by Staff reporter
14 Oct 2023 at 07:30hrs | Views
TAKUWA Natural Products, a Botswana-based company, is looking to establish a donkey milk value-addition production base in Zimbabwe. While Zimbabwe has a large herd of donkeys mainly for draught power by farmers, the country generally does not consume any donkey milk or meat-related products. However, recent research studies suggest that donkey milk has wider natural health attributes that could be harnessed to enhance human health, especially the skin.

In an interview at the 2023 Global Expo Botswana, Takuwa Natural Products operations manager, Taolo Sesupo, said they viewed Zimbabwe as a strategic partner in growing their business. Since 2016, the company has been perfecting its systems and refining the products, which include natural donkey milk for human consumption, as well as a range of donkey milk soaps that are said to be effective in curing a variety of skin conditions.

According to Taolo, donkey milk does not contain any bacteria and is whiter with low fat content but tastes a little bit sweeter than cow's milk. Their research has shown that donkey milk contains major amino acids that are good for the cardiovascular system, treatment of thrombosis and fighting colds. It is also rich in vitamins and minerals that nourish the skin and help maintain its elasticity. Donkey milk contains high levels of lysozyme, an enzyme with antimicrobial properties that may contribute to healthier skin. It is also believed to help soothe skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and acne.

Takuwa Natural Products' initiative is a step in the right direction towards creating an inclusive food industry that caters to all body types. Their products offer a natural alternative to traditional dairy products and are perfect for people who are lactose intolerant or have other dietary restrictions.

"We focus mainly on donkey milk products and natural herbs. For now we are into soaps and cosmetics. In recent years we've had huge interest for our products from different countries including Zimbabwe and South Africa. We have more requests on our website and social media to expand supplies to Zimbabwe.

"So, we want an investor or someone who can partner with us to actually make the products in Zimbabwe or export them locally to Zimbabwe. Should we find the raw materials in Zimbabwe, we can actually open another plant there to cater for the market in Zimbabwe and beyond," he said.

Although donkey milk products are not prevalent in Zimbabwe or Africa as a whole, Taolo stated that their company has firmly advocated for the product due to its beneficial impact and health significance.

"We started our research around 2016, and did it for about two years as trial and error. We initially produced soap that didn't have other properties and that's why we later incorporated elements like crude aloe, and avocados so that we increase the nutritional content of the product.

"We did this with the technical assistance from Dr Takuwa from the University of Botswana hence we named the products after him as a way of honouring him or praising him for the assistance he rendered."

Dr David Tanyala Takuwa is a research scientist and specialist analytical chemist at the University of Botswana whose research inspired the company.

"Research has shown that our donkey milk products work so well on all skin types across races as it boosts immunity. Donkey milk has higher nutritional value such as amino acids and your omegas, which are good for the cardiovascular system as well as iron, calcium and potassium.

"These show that donkey milk has higher qualities that can help the body to be strong against common skin conditions."

Taolo explained that part of his motivation for starting the firm was a desire to help his sister, who suffered from skin disorders that could not be addressed by any accessible store medicines, and doctors' advice was also ineffective. He added that their study has revealed that some royal families utilised donkey milk for bathing in the past, proving that the commodity has medical properties for dealing with persistent skin disorders.

Taolo stated that the company has had a herd of donkeys since its inception, but it also relies on supply from smallholder farmers who keep the animals and profit from the initiative.

"We have been empowering farmers and communities through this. However, we are yet to process any donkey meat because we are concerned about the conservation side for now. Maybe in the next few years we will because we have done research to that effect," he said.

Source - The Chronicle