SA’s Organic Tea Producers Win Equator Prize

A FEW years ago, environmental degradation due to poverty and unemployment was ravaging the community of Suide Bokkeveld near Nieuwoud Ville in northern Cape Town.

This forced some members of this community to come together and look at what they could do to address the problem.

Their gatherings eventually gave birth to the establishment of the Heiveld co-operative in 2001.

The initiative now consists of 64 members who produce drought-resistant varieties of Rooibos tea organically on their individual plots, meaning they do not use artificial fertilisers but rather organic materials that enrich the soil – leading to sustainable land management.

Apart from this, the co-operative has empowered and improved the livelihoods of the community by mobilising indigenous knowledge to adapt to climate change, conserve soil, biodiversity as well as support with market access.

The co-operative invests revenues back into community water access, education and health projects. A third of its members and all its staff are women.

A couple of weeks ago, the Heiveld co-operative was amongst 12 African community projects on sustainable land management that were awarded the 2014 Equator Prize for Sustainable Land Management (for Sub-Saharan Africa) held in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

The co-operative was also nominated to attend the Global Equator Prize Awards, to be held in New York in September this year.

Absalom Shigwedha is a freelance environmental journalist.

Source : The Namibian