Kalahari melon seed oil
The Kalahari melon (Citrullus lanatus) thrives in arid, desert landscapes, where it miraculously manages to fill itself with water each season. Both the fruit of the melons and their seeds are important sources of nutrition for local people, while oil pressed from Kalahari melon seeds has a long history of culinary and cosmetic use. Yellow hued with a slightly nutty scent, the oil is high in linoleic acid and a strong, easily-absorbed moisturiser thought to have anti-aging properties.
After harvesting, the fruit pulp of the Kalahari melons is separated from the seeds: some of the pulp is used to prepare traditional dishes and some used to feed livestock. The melon seeds are then dried and aggregated at collection points for purchase and transportation to KaZa's processing facility in Harare, where the kernels are extracted from the seeds and cold-pressed into oil.
Country of origin:
KaZa Natural Oils
May - July
How it’s produced
KaZa Natural Oils is an established producer of indigenous carrier oils with a strong track record of environmental and social responsibility.
Harvesters collect wild Kalahari melons for KaZa throughout rural Matebeleland. KaZa's access permits for the melons are issued by the Forestry Commission, the Rural District Council and traditional leaders, stakeholders with whom KaZa works closely to manage and monitor harvesting and processing.
KaZa evaluates the Kalahari melon population for risk of overharvesting, using an ecological management plan to ensure commercialisation does not negatively impact the melons or their environment and providing training around harvesting best practices. An annual species, each season the plants die back, leaving the melons for easy collection: enough fruit is left to ensure the germination of the next season’s population. Each batch of Kalahari melon seed oil is fully traceable.
Kalahari melon harvesters (predominantly women) are organised into collectives that negotiate pricing and the terms of their long-term contracts with KaZa. The production of Kalahari melon seed oil is considered a Biotrade activity: KaZa has established informed consent with the local authority in the harvesting community and mutually negotiated terms with harvester groups. The Rural District Council is the key stakeholder in the management and monitoring of Kalahari melon commercialisation, in compliance with Access and Benefit Sharing regulation.