All over the world, people are increasingly looking for healthy food – hence the growing interest in Rooibos. Nicie Vorster, spokesperson for the SA Rooibos Council (SARC), says, “Major Rooibos markets view the tea as a premium healthy lifestyle product and promote it in its pure and unblended form, which health-conscious consumers want more of. The increased emphasis on health and well-being globally is fuelling a preference for experiences and products that promote wellness.”
Vorster says it is not only the health benefits of Rooibos that make it highly sought-after, but also its versatility. Rooibos can be enjoyed as both a hot and cold beverage, plain or flavoured. Rooibos is also used as an ingredient in beauty products, nutraceuticals, alcoholic drinks, confectionary and food such as yoghurt and cereal.
Currently, a record high of 57 000 hectares are planted with Rooibos. This is almost double that of a decade ago as more farmers, especially those from the Swartland region, have cleared existing farmland to make way for Rooibos. The increasing agricultural footprint of Rooibos demonstrates the growing demand – both locally and internationally – for Rooibos.
The sector is also attracting more growers, especially grain farmers who are looking to diversify, since Rooibos is a hardy, dry-land crop that is generally less affected by drought than other rain-dependent crops.
Vorster says Rooibos farmers took various steps to manage supply during the drought of the past few years. Among others, they implemented more sustainable farming practices, removed water-thirsty alien vegetation, and limited pest and disease outbreaks.
More good news is that Clanwilliam Dam’s wall will be raised by 13 meters. Government has already approved this project. The higher wall will treble the dam’s storage capacity and provide farmers in the area with a more sustainable supply of water. Construction, which is already underway, should take about five years to complete.
The Rooibos industry currently employs an estimated 8 000 farmworkers. Additional employment is created in upstream activities such as processing, packaging and retailing.
To read more:
Independent Online | Business Report: SA’s Rooibos tea enjoys a rosy outlook from international markets
Listen to interview:
Radio 702: Rooibos plantation size at all time high as demand explodes around the world