In short: The CSIR partners with SMME development funders who are committed to broadening economic participation. The organisation has, over many years, helped diversify and expand the South African essential oils sector. Over the past four years, researchers have tested approximately 20 crop varieties and provided training to emerging essential oil farmers and entrepreneurs.
The challenge: Sustainable rural livelihoods.
Essential oils are in demand worldwide and South Africa is well-positioned to contribute to this sector, but small-scale entrepreneurs have insufficient access to the relevant knowledge.
The technology deployed or developed: The CSIR has a sound knowledge base in the production of essential oils, which is used globally in pharmaceuticals, fragrance and flavours. The organisation has developed an agronomic and processing guide for small-scale entrepreneurs.
The CSIR is assisting a community in Limpopo to establish an essential oils production facility to exploit the natural properties of indigenous plants such as the lemon bush (Lippia javanica) and rose geranium (Pelargonium graveolens). The cooperative has started to harvest and distil crops, which is to be sold to manufacturers of natural aromatic and therapeutical products.
The CSIR assisted with aspects such as soil and climate, oil yield, equipment needs, chemical analysis of oils, requirements for regulatory approval and market potential.
The impact: The farm at Driekop in Limpopo has 10 permanent employees and many temporary workers during harvest and peak weeding times.