How a cup of rooibos empowers Khoi and San communities

Picture: iStock

The minister said monies received will be paid into trust accounts opened by the communities to ensure that it is properly managed.

The Khoi-Khoi and San communities are set to benefit from the industry-wide benefit-sharing agreement (BSA) for traditional knowledge associated with rooibos.

This follows the launch of the BSA for traditional knowledge associated with rooibos by Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Barbara Creecy, on Friday.

“Today is an auspicious day in the history of our country as we witness the signing and approval ceremony for a unique agreement – one that benefits the Khoi and San communities of South Africa,” said Creecy, speaking at Yzerfontein in the Western Cape.

The department of environment, forestry and fisheries in 2011 was approached by the South African San Council on behalf of the San people of South Africa, expressing concerns about inadequate acknowledgment, recognition and protection of their interests.

A subsequent consultative study concluded in 2015 found the San and Khoi-Khoi held the traditional knowledge for rooibos and honeybush tea.

The outcome of the probe meant that as the rightful owners of these rights, these communities would receive benefits from the commercial utilisation of species in the development of new products such as tea, medicines, food flavourings and cosmetics in terms of National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, 2004 and the Bioprospecting, Access and Benefit Sharing Regulations.

“What the negotiations have produced is a one-year pilot through which the Khoi and San communities will receive 1.5% of the farm gate price from the processors of rooibos in the form of an annual levy,” said Creecy.

“The farm gate price, which does not include VAT, is the price that is paid by the processors of a product to the farmers who grow, harvest or ferment and dry rooibos. This money is being paid for the use of the traditional knowledge associated with rooibos.”

At present, the overall value of the 1.5% benefit amounts to around R12 million per year.

“To reach that amount we calculated that if 15 million kilogrammes of rooibos is harvested and sold at R60 per kilogramme it would come to around R12 million – all to be paid by the rooibos industry to the Khoi and San communities,” she said.

The minister said monies received will be paid into trust accounts opened by the San and Khoi communities to ensure that it is properly managed.

“Benefits include the creation of jobs, and the upliftment of some 160 small-scale farmers who belong to the Wupperthal cooperative in the Western Cape and the Heiveld co-op in the Northern Cape,” she said.

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