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Sustainable development through processing natural products

Sustainable development through processing natural products

Supported by non-government organisations as well as research and trade institutions, this initiative supports women entrepreneurs to harvest, process and market Marula-tree products, combining individual production and processing with collective training and marketing. The initiative focuses both on passing on traditional knowledge and introducing new expertise such as sustainable harvesting.

The women-led initiative Marula Zimbabwe trains local women to produce, process, quality control and market marula tree products. The fruit, bark, juice, skin and leaves of this native plant are used to produce a variety of products, such as jam, wine, dried kernels, oil, nuts, herbal powder and soap. The Development and Finance Institute for Rural Women Trust (DFIRWT) encourages women in the Chivi District in Southern Zimbabwe, grouped as Marula Zimbabwe, to generate additional household income by processing traditional marula tree products. As well as receiving advice on production and processing, the female entrepreneurs are trained in finance, business management, savings and credit. Marula Zimbabwe, in collaboration with the Zvishavane Water Project (ZWP), has successfully acquired two hydraulic oil-pressing machines and ensures consistent product quality through sampling, etc. Such quality monitoring is essential in order to achieve a high quality of the products, especially the oils, and thus to market marula products effectively. The initiative also works with PhytotradeAfrica, a regional trade association, which carries out product research and development as well as providing links to markets for the initiative’s finished products. International marketing of marula products is also planned. 

  • Provide training for around 100 women and plant an additional 800 trees.
  • Introduce organic farming methods in surrounding communities that are not members of Marula Zimbabwe.
  • Apply for organic and fair trade certification.
  • Improve the production process for soap making and body oil.
  • Enhance the business area of flavourings for cereals, biscuits and sweets.
  • Mentor approximately 45 entrepreneurs.
  • Introduce a credit component into savings and credit schemes.


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