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South Africa:Ministerial visit to Eastern Cape Essential Oils Project
Source: http://www.csir.co.za/enews/2013_mar/02.html
Source Date: Thursday, April 11, 2013
Focus: Institution and HR Management
Country: South Africa
Created: Apr 11, 2013

Hugging the outskirts of the Kwanobuhle township in the Eastern Cape town of Uitenhage, the farm of 30 hectares (ha), is covered in neatly cultivated rows of Rose geranium and Lippia javanica (fever tea). Leaves, stems and flowers of these aromatic plants are harvested for their essential oils. Essential oils are high-value, low-volume botanical products used in the fragrance-related industries.
Mr Hanekom showed a keen interest in the management and operations of this project, particularly in the details of the recent revitalisation of the soil through addition of nutrients and the intensive land preparation programme. Through these activities, the Kwanobuhle project is well positioned to increase its capacity to 35 ha within the year. The appointment of supervisory staff and structured mentoring of existing staff has boosted the morale on the farm. The farm employs 29 workers.
As input to the project, Mr Hanekom raised a number of relevant points for consideration as its operations grow and expand. These included the need for crop diversification to ensure a stable income and avoid vulnerability to price fluctuations, and the importance of value addition to the product. He urged management and beneficiaries to learn from other successful projects in the area.
Skills transfer was another aspect that the minister highlighted as essential to sustainability, particularly in the light of the future handover of the project to beneficiaries.
On a different note, Mr Hanekom touched on the issue of food security as an element of poverty alleviation. He proposed reserving part of the farm for vegetable cultivation to provide food for workers and beneficiaries.
Phumza Mfenyana of the CSIR’s Port Elizabeth office, who is responsible for the management of this project, comments, “It was a privilege to host Mr Hanekom. We appreciate his interest and insight into the operations of this farm and his enthusiasm for its future as a self-sustaining enterprise.”
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