To many people, a donkey is a repulsive animal that never stops scratching and will more often spot ugly wounds. Over the years, the donkey has only been perceived as a beast of burden despite it having numerous benefits. Consuming donkey meat was something that many people would never consider, but then, how about drinking donkey milk?
One farmer, Johannes Visagie, from Verda in the Kgalagadi District, has explored other uses of the animal, which has turned out to be a goldmine for him.
The 55-year-old retiree is harvesting donkey milk to sustain his livelihood under his registered company called ‘Just Organic’, which trades as Kalahari Donkey Products.
Speaking to Business Monitor, he said he has been drinking donkey milk since he was a little boy up until recently when he realised that he could earn a living through the sale of donkey milk.
“When the thought of making money through donkey milk struck, I never looked back. I began studying their behavior, what they eat, how they sleep, and so on,” Visagie said. He said he spent about eight weeks closely studying donkeys after which he conducted a research on donkey meat to find out if it can be a viable business.
“I realised that selling donkey meat would not be viable so I decided to shift my interest to donkey milk,” he said.
This suddenly prompted him to approach the National Food Technology Research Centre (NFTRC) for an analysis of donkey milk, which he claims they did and recommended the usage of donkey milk for its health importance. Following the research, Visagie said he then started manufacturing soaps that are enriched with Kgalagadi donkey milk that he says are good for curing blemishes, uneven skin tone, skin allergies and moisturises skin.
Today, he spends his days at the Main Mall in Gaborone, where he has erected a vending spot selling his donkey milk products such as soaps, body lotion and donkey milk.
Seemingly, his outlet attracted a number of people who either came to buy the products or just inquired about the prices.
While at the outlet, one woman who later identified herself as Maureen Gasennelwe, bought two bottles of donkey milk at P100 each. The 63-year-old from Tlokweng told Business Monitor that she was buying the milk for herself and her four-year-old son.
“My son is asthmatic and has always had asthmatic attacks especially during winter. Ever since I started giving him donkey milk he has never had an attack,” she said.
Visagie stated that the milk is nutritional and has many health benefits, noting that it has helped many people overcome certain health complications.
Apart from the ‘nutritious’ donkey milk, Visagie said his lotion is pure organic and has a softening effect. He claims that it has been tested by a South African university which he said proved that the lotion has moisturising and emollient properties.
According to Visagie, the ingredients found in the lotion, which is also enriched with Kgalagadi donkey milk, include palm oil, coconut oil, grape seed oil, indigenous tree gum, milk cream and rose fragrance.
With a second outlet at the African Mall, he said he intends to commercialise his donkey milk business, establishing donkey farms in all the districts and partnering with the community and some donkey farmers.
“This will help a great deal in the reduction of unemployment in this country as we would be also supplying individuals with our products for them to sell and make a living,” he enthused.