By Sizakele Nduli
Muofhe Ratshikombo grew up learning the art of making and selling atchaar with her grandmother, who owned a spaza shop. Now, the 30-year-old atchaar producer continues the family tradition which also creates employment opportunities for the people of Mamvuka village in Limpopo. “When I got to Grade 10, my grandparents advised me to choose Agricultural Sciences subjects so that I could have a deeper understanding of how food is produced through sustainable agricultural practices,” she told Vutivi News. “Despite financial constraints, I [obtained] a degree in Agricultural Development and Extension, and in 2021 I was fortunate enough to be part of the one-year internship programme SAB as a field intern officer.”
Ratshikombo said that after completing the programme, she decided to take a break from applying for jobs and went back home to establish Oumie’s Grandé, an agro-processing business that manufactures, supplies, and distributes fruit and vegetables. “I was able to save my money and start my business in August 2021. Oumie’s Grandé’ (is) named after my grandmother,” she added.
She received funding from both the Small Enterprise Development Agency and the National Youth Development Agency in 2022, which she will use to open a factory. “We have already bought land, and we will be commencing with establishing our own factory as we are operating from a rental space. Ratshikombo’s business currently has eight permanent employees and 11 seasonal workers, which increase with each growing season. “The vision is to be a global brand of reference for the manufacturing of atchaar through sustainable agricultural practices.”
One of the obstacles she had to overcome was ensuring that the atchaar was readily available in all seasons, despite mangos not being in season throughout the year. “We specialise in traditional handmade mango atchaar, which was only available in December during mango season. “With a lot of research, I was able to figure out a way to ensure that we had availability of the product throughout the year to meet our customers’ demands with a quality product,” she said. “The most difficult part is compliance certification, like the food safety certificate; the process is pricey.”
Their selection includes four delicious flavours: hot, garlic, mild, and hot and garlic. They are priced at R45 for 50 ml, R60 for 750 ml, R70 for one litre, and R130 for two litres. Ratshikombo said she was planning on launching a new atchaar in the near future. The products can be purchased at https://oumiesgrande.co.za/ and online at Markro Marketplace. They can also be found at various retailers in Gauteng and Limpopo, including Roots Butchery, Premium Biltong, and Fire Fly Butchery.