Mahangu cookies score sweet victory for local goods

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At the announcement on Friday were (from left) May Kandenge the merchandiser of cookies, Pick n Pay Managing Director, Henry Feris, Grete Izaks the co-owner of GB Mahangu Enterprises and Iyaloo Kandenge a merchandiser of cookies.

WINDHOEK – More than a year after mahangu (pearl millet) cookies were launched onto the local market by Minister of Agriculture Water and Forestry, John Mutorwa, major retailer Pick n Pay has announced that it will now start stocking the locally manufactured treats at all its outlets throughout the county.

In what is considered a resounding victory for locally manufactured products, Pick n Pay Namibia’s Managing Director, Henry Feris, said the relationship with Rehoboth-based manufacturers, GB Mahangu Enterprises, is “a perfect fit in terms of realizing our purpose. We in Namibia need to ensure our own sustainability.”

During the launch at Pick n Pay Auas Valley on Friday, Feris confirmed that the full range of mahangu cookies will be stocked at the six Pick n Pay outlets in Windhoek and will be gradually rolled out to the rest of the outlets across the country. “Pick n Pay is always ready to support a well presented product like this,” added Feris.

Also speaking at the launch, Team Namibia’s General Manager, Lizette Foot, emphasized that in order to bring about growth at home local consumers have to change their mindsets. “By supporting local business there is a multiplying effect on many factors. We want to see more products that meet Namibian demands,” said Foot. She then encouraged other retailers to support local initiatives.

When the mahangu cookies were initially launched in September last year, Fruit & Veg was the first retailer to take up the stock.

The mahangu cookies enterprise originates from the Mahangu Marketing Plan approved by Cabinet in 2010. Since then the agriculture ministry and the Namibian Agronomic Board (NAB) have assisted GB Mahangu Enterprises in developing the mahangu cookies from local mahangu flour.

Co-owner of GB Mahangu Enterprises, Grete Izaks, noted that she now produces about 2 000 150g packets every week while employing four full-time and three part-time staff. She said she hoped to increase her production and employ more people if demand increases and more retailers agree to stock her products.

When the cookies were first introduced last year Minister Mutorwa explained that the project is part of the ministry’s efforts to promote processing of and value addition to indigenous produce. The ministry made available an industrial biscuit-making machine to GB Mahangu Enterprises for use in the development as well as production of the cookies.

To ensure the safety and quality of the product, the cookies were tested at an accredited laboratory in South Africa, where they met all health and quality standards. The new mahangu products come in four different varieties – oatmeal, cookies with nuts, biscuits and plain cookies and are now fully ready for the market, according to Mutorwa.

With the health standards specifications approved, the minister stressed that there should be no excuse for not having these highly nutritious, locally developed and manufactured cookies on the shelves of local super markets throughout the country.

By Edgar Brandt

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