Rooibos upliftment for Khoi, San people

The agreement entails a one-year pilot agreement 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.

According to Creecy, the farm gate prize which excludes VAT, is the price that is paid by the processors of a product to the farmers who grow, harvest, ferment and dry rooibos.

“This money is paid for the use of traditional knowledge associated with the plant. At present, this 1.5% benefit will amount to R12m per year.

“To reach that amount, we calculated 15 million kilogram of rooibos that is harvested and sold at R60 per kilogram.

” It would come to R12m and all that will be paid by the Rooibos industry to the San and Khoi communities.”

Creecy said the R12m will be paid to trust accounts that will be opened by communities and they will assist in creating jobs.

The negotiation process that took nine years was not without challenges, as Dr Rodger Chennells, lawyer for South African San Council, explains. The agreement is regarded as the first of its kind in SA and the whole world.

Speaking at the launch, Chennells explained that the negations were guided by National Environmental Management Biodiversity Act (Nemba) of 2004.

“We celebrate this historical agreement, we got to celebrate for the first time in the world and international law. It was a difficult and educational process at times.

“We negotiated using Nemba law, which some did not understand. To a larger degree, we had to understand the law and make sure we work around it. This victory is huge for the communities both in monetary value terms and in recognition,” Creecy said.

Cederbery Rooibos Farming and Processing Khoisan Community negotiator Barend Solomo has embraced the benefit sharing but said they wanted more land.

He believes owning a share will assist young people and the communities at large to alleviate unemployment.

He explained that the unemployment rate in Khoi and San communities was 85%. He said they further needed government to build access roads for them as well as houses.

Young Khoi and San activist Jamila Blow, 26, who lives in Port Elizabeth, said she hoped the deal will change their lives.

“I want to see both San and Khoi communities working together to bring change in these communities. I am happy about today’s victory because it was significant,” Blow said.

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