National 31.8.2016 10:44 am

Manufacturing sector in Limpopo creates jobs

Paul de Villiers, who owns KT beverages in Limpopo, with some of the more than 50 people he employs. PIC. Brenda Masilela/ANA

Paul de Villiers, who owns KT beverages in Limpopo, with some of the more than 50 people he employs. PIC. Brenda Masilela/ANA

Ten years since starting his Kombucha tea business, Paul de Villiers now has a vibrant workforce of more than 50 people.

Paul de Villiers, who owns KT beverages, which produces Kombucha tea, in Limpopo has been thrust in the limelight as Brand SA seeks to showcase hidden gems in South Africa.

It has been 10 years since De Villiers started his business with only a five-litre bucket. A visit to his factory on Tuesday revealed a vibrant workforce of more than 50 people.

Explaining the rationale of the visit to De Villiers’s factory, Brand South Africa general manager Manusha Pillai said her organisation decided to profile sectors in Limpopo province to showcase elements of its competitiveness.

“In this regard, the following sectors will be profiled in Polokwane – investment, manufacturing, agriculture, research, as well as science and technology,” she said.

At the factory, De Villiers readily explained that his product, Kombucha, is a type of sweetened herb tea, which he said has been made and consumed by humans for more than 2 000 years.

De Villiers said anecdotal history suggests Kombucha tea had healthy benefits, such as fighting cancer, arthritis and other degenerative diseases.

He said Kombucha worked with the body to boost its natural inbuilt ability to fight sickness and disease. “It also brings a health balance to your metabolism and organs.”

De Villiers said through trial-and-error his factory had improved the consistency of the taste of the product, but he was still tackling challenges in the fermenting process.

“The company was buying tea every third month when it started, which would come from different harvests, this would alter the taste a little, but now we buy tea once a year for consistency, but sometimes it does come out different, and we have to start all over again.”

The tea comes in various flavours, including mango, orange and fruit cocktail. “We produce 25 000 litres on a day, and besides local clients, we have clients in Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia,” said De Villiers.

He said he had been granted R4.8 million in funding from the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) to increase his factory’s production capacity.

“This place is actually a brewery, and the costs are high. The IDC helped us to expand it by funding us with money and equipment.”

Developments at the factory that are under way include the construction of a water plant, installation of tea and sugar storage facilities, and new boiling facilities.

Worker Albert Masenya, 46, who has been with the company for 10 years said he would be happy if people would support more local products.

“Finding a job is hard, and it would be better if people would support these local products so that more people can be employed.”

The factory also produces Moringa juice, which is made out of leaves. Moringa has been named a miracle tree and was popularly grown in the village of Tooseng in rural Limpopo before spreading to other parts around the country.

It’s also believed the leaves can improve people’s health.

De Villiers said he bought Moringa leaves from a farmer in Magoebaskloof.

“I always try to explain to people who get confused that Moringa is a vitamin supplement and Kombucha is a detoxer,” said De Villiers.

“Some of the vitamins in Moringa include Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Iron and proteins, it contains it in high amounts that are easily digested and assimilated by the human body.

“With modern living comes poor diet and an increase in harmful substances in our bodies. This is why people should detox from time to time, but as it always is the case, we don’t do it often enough.”

Pillai said Brand South Africa was on a mission to showcase manufacturing plants like KT beverages in Limpopo.

“This comes within the context of Brand South Africa’s mandate to positively position South Africa’s competitiveness. Provincial and city brands are the building blocks of the nation brand. Competitive strengths of provinces and cities therefore impact positively on the South African Nation Brand.”

– African News Agency (ANA)

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