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Rooibos tea agreement a world first


A ground-breaking agreement was concluded on Friday between the indigenous Khoi and San Communities and the Rooibos Industry that seeks to 'right the wrongs" of a past injustice.

Nine years in the making, the Access and Benefit-sharing agreement was signed at !Kwa Ttu San Culture and Education Centre in Yzerfontein in the Western Cape between the SA Rooibos Council and two indigenous communities represented by the National Khoi-San Council and the South African San Council.

"This is the first time in world history that two indigenous communities are being compensated for their indigenous knowledge that has led to the exploitation of a commercial product," said Environmental Affairs Minister Creecy, whose Department had played a role in the negotiations.

"The agreement gives the Khoi and the San communities 1.5% of the value of every kilogram of Rooibos tea that is sold by farmers and this amounts to a considerable sum of money, in our estimation somewhere in the region of R12m a year at the current value of Rooibos tea," she said.

"The intention is that the communities will be putting this money into two community trusts and obviously they will decide how this money will be used by the community.  I was discussing with the leader of the San Community who indicated that they wanted to establish an educational trust," Creecy said.

SARC chairperson, Martin Bergh, said the protection and preservation of the Rooibos industry and its people remain critical to the SA Rooibos Council.

"The industry recognises that the Khoi-Khoi and San people had knowledge of the Rooibos plant and that including them as beneficiaries in this agreement, is the right thing to do."

According to a statement, the NKC and SASC also welcomed the move which they said would contribute a great deal to the development and empowerment of the Khoi-Khoi and San communities they represent.

As a signatory to the Nagoya Protocol, South Africa requires industries that trade in indigenous biological resources, such as Rooibos, to share benefits with traditional knowledge holders in a fair and equitable way.

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