After nine years of negotiations, the Khoi and San communities will now benefit from the rooibos and honeybush-producing industry.
A benefit-sharing agreement was signed on Friday between the community and industry representative at the !Kwa Ttu San Culture and Education Centre in Yzerfontein in the Western Cape.
Research by the Department of Environmental Affairs concluded that the Khoi and San communities were the traditional knowledge holders for rooibos and honeybush. This entitled them to benefit financially from the commercial use of the plants, most commonly used as a tea. Endemic to the Cape Floral Kingdom, rooibos is used in a range of products, including toiletries, juices and herbal remedies.
The Honeybush Rooibos and Honeybush Traditional Knowledge Benefit Sharing Agreement includes a one-year pilot granting the Khoi and San communities 1.5% of the farm gate price from the processors of rooibos in the form of an annual levy. This estimated R12 million a year will be paid into trust accounts opened by the communities. The agreement will allow for jobs creation and the upliftment of 160 small-scale farmers.
Speaking at the launch of the agreement, Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Barbara Creecy said this agreement would serve as a base and example for many similar settlements to be reached with local communities in future. She added that rooibos has also become known worldwide as a proudly South African product and brand.
“Such international recognition cannot exist without appreciating the contribution of indigenous knowledge to the use of rooibos and honeybush. That is why it is important that the parties to the Rooibos Traditional Knowledge Industry-Wide Benefit Sharing Agreement, salute the role of San and Khoi traditional knowledge, without which the variety of medicines and other products made from this plant by the rooibos industry would not have happened.”