The sorghum revolution – celebrating treasures of the African soil

So Yhum biscuit range

SR Snacks (Pty) Ltd co-founder, Keneiloe Kganane - Bcom Economics and Econometrics graduate, is on a mission to  revive sorghum in the South African market by providing innovative, climate-smart, nutritious, affordable and tasty sorghum snacks foods  that will ensure food security for generations to come.

Kganane is a Junior Sensory Research Assistant working on the strategic business development for  Healthy SMA2RT snacks which is a project in collaboration with the National University of Lesotho (NUL) and the Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BUAN).

This month sees her company SR Snacks Pty Ltd under the So Yhum brand celebrating its one year mark on the market baking flavoursome packed sorghum based biscuits which are currently being sold across coffee shops and small retailers in Gauteng province.

“Sorghum has a major role to play in influencing lifestyle habits of consumers. We want to create a culture of consuming healthy foods and promote indigenous foods among the youth, tourists and other consumers at local and international levels,” Kganane said.

“While sorghum is often associated with traditional lifestyle i.e. alcoholic and non-alcoholic traditional beverages, with our biscuit range we want to introduce innovative products that can appeal to modern palates and lifestyles. The biscuits come in three flavours, vanilla, chocolate chips and cranberry with more flavours that celebrates the true African experience to be introduced,” Kganane added.

Due to its tolerance for heat and drought conditions, sorghum is a safe grain alternative for people with celiac disease and gluten insensitivity, therefore making So Yhum biscuits the ultimate safe, market ready, acceptable African, ready-to-eat/use, trendy (SMA2RT) nutritious snack. 

According to BioFISA II Programme manager, Zvikomborero Tangawamira some of the key impact for funding this project include the creation of enterprises that commercialise healthy nutritious snacks from indigenous ingredients, job creation and local content along the value chain.

To date,  SR Snacks Pty Ltd commercialisation objective from funders SANBio/BioFISA II Programme has  assisted in seeing, 3 masters and 6 honours students at UP with doing research and receiving training and skills development opportunities.

“Even though the company is still in its teething stage, I believe that with the right support and funding we can use the richness and treasurers of our African soil and exploit the potential of this uniquely African grain,” said Kganane. 

To maintain the success of the project, Kganane is working with UP Professor Henriëtte de Kock-project leader and partner at SR Snacks Pty Ltd who according to Kganane has contributed to the fruitful partnership.

“I come from a commercial background and Prof Henriette is a Food Scientist, our relationship is testament that research and business should be coherent. If all the different sectors would work coherently with one another, imagine the great things we can do for Africa,” she added.

The So Yhum success story is one of SANBio/BioFISA II Programme SMA2RT Seed Projects that are key role players in revolutionising indigenous African crops. To date, a micro bakery enterprise Healthy Baked Pty Ltd, which is owned by three graduates from NUL has been established. Furthermore, a commercial partner, Denmar Estates Pty Ltd and UP has launched and co-developed Motoho (sorghum-based drink) is available in retail markets and well on its way to launch a second product as part of the project collaboration.
While in Botswana, another exciting sorghum-based product developed at BUAN is also set to hit the market soon.

By Kelebohile Sedieane