Members of the Lupane Manketti Oil Project and the Hwange Baobab Oil Enterprise are targeting to expand the two projects under the $5 million European Union (EU) Forest Forces Programme in order to create more jobs and contribute to poverty alleviation in Matabeleland North Province.

Launched in 2015 under the auspices of the US$4.8 million Forest Forces Project jointly funded by the EU and the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), the two projects have been hailed for contributing to the improvement of livelihoods of villagers in the province.

Member of the Lupane Manketti Oil Project who are involved in the extraction of oil from the Manketti seeds used for cosmetic applications, said while the project has been growing over the years, access to markets has been a major challenge. 

“We are beginning to realise huge benefits from the initiative, however, the biggest challenge remains lack of access to markets,” said one member of the project.

Members of the Hwange Baobab Oil Project said they are pleased that the initiative has enhanced their capacity to withstand the shocks in times of drought, adding that there is greater scope for expansion of the project.

The two projects are in sync with provisions of the SADC Protocol on Forestry, one of whose objectives is to promote the development, conservation, sustainable management and utilisation of all types of forests and trees.