Nestled at the foot of the Amathola Mountains, a small local community is developing its resources to build a brighter future for them all. The small scale Indigenous Oils Programme was established in 2006 by the Siyakhokwa Group, which has been instrumental in this Rural Social Enterprise Project.
In partnership with South African Breweries Foundation, Qobo Qobo Essential Oils is a non-profit organization which has established ten independent farmer units to grow Rose Geranium, Cape Chamomile and Wild Rosemary for profit in Keiskamahoek, Eastern Cape.
Site units belong to emerging local farmers, who take full control in the crop production, and provide crop bio mass to the central processing plant at Siyakholwa Development Foundation.
After initial research by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the foundation was given start-up funding by the Eastern Cape Development Corporation and root stock was purchased from the CSIR.
The Development Bank of South Africa then funded two propagation nurseries to substantially extend the crop area. Thousands of rooted cuttings have been distributed since 2006, while the R600,000 distillation plant has grown to 2 x 1 ton pots.
The Plant can process up to 40 hectares of crops per annum. The oil, tested by Dohne Agricultural Research Institute and the CSIR, is of some of the finest quality in the world.
Beneficiation of the oils is a future option. The scope for introducing a wider range of by products, including room fragrances, soaps and candles for cosmetic and aromatherapy use, is also being researched.
Phase two of the project will see the development of well-established farmer units to process and introduce value-added components which add oils to a variety of other commercially viable markets.