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South Africa: Community Benefits through Eastern Cape Essential Oils Project
Source: SIR e-News - November 2013
Source Date: Friday, November 29, 2013
Focus: Electronic and Mobile Government, ICT for MDGs
Country: South Africa
Created: Nov 29, 2013

Hanekom was joined by European Union ambassador Roeland van de Geer, Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Ben Fihla, CSIR Group Executive Dr Rachel Chikwamba and the CSIR’s Dr Marthinus Horak, Manager for Essential Oils and Medicinal Plants.
Agro-processing in action
The KwaNobuhle initiative is part of the government's attempt to bring new agri-businesses and value chains into being. This was informed by the study conducted by the National Economic Development and Labour Council Fund for Research into Industrial Development, Growth and Equity on essential oils, which identified South Africa's top 20 oils for commercialisation. The initiative therefore represents the start of an essential oils production cluster based on the leaves and new shoots of a cross-bred, rose-scented geranium cultivar, Pelargonium cv. Rosé.
The KwaNobuhle project has been run by the Uitenhage Small Farmers Trust since 2006 with assistance from the CSIR’s Phumza Mfenyana, an enterprise creation specialist. Its focus on the essential oils sector was aligned to South African conditions.
Ambassador Van de Geer commented on the fact that relatively accessible oil extraction technology is helping to create jobs, promote business establishment and enhance skills development.
Currently, 31 full-time employees are involved in the project, and human capital is developed in various ways. For example, the site supervisor and distillation facility operators have gained valuable managerial, administration, horticultural and processing experience in carrying out the project.
The 40 ha of land under cultivation is leased from the Trust. The project produces 900 kg of oil a year at a rate of 30kg of oil per hectare per year. It also features a sector-specific agro-processing infrastructure investment, notably an essential oils processing factory, with sufficient capacity to process essential oil plants from nearby farms.
Horak comments, “This Rose geranium project at Uitenhage has consistently produced oil of above-average quality, which demonstrates the value of transferring modern agro-processing technology and farming skills to community farmers. The project is nearing the stage where it can be transformed into a fully-integrated, sustainable business in favour of the local community.”
Minister Hanekom emphasised additional socio-economic benefits of this project, “At its heart is building a community through a land development process and creating a platform for various types of farming activities to take place in one peri-urban area outside of the motor manufacturing centre of Uitenhage. It provides a practical way to plan for, and build, an integrated initiative.”
Dr Marthinus Horak
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