The Khoi and San communities are the original inhabitants of South Africa.
Once called “Bushmen” they were driven to the remotest corners of the country by both the African and white communities.
Many lived in the Cederberg – a beautiful but poverty-stricken mountainous north of Cape Town.
But the people had a great asset in the Rooibos plant that is native to the area. Today it is a major South African export and – at last – the Khoi and San people are benefiting from it.
Khoi and San receive first cycle of benefit-sharing funds from Rooibos industry
The first round of benefit-sharing funds disbursed to the National Khoi and San Council and the South African San Council forms part of the ABS agreement signed in 2019. Picture: Brendan Magaar/African News Agency(ANA)
Cape Town – The Rooibos industry has paid a sum of R12.2 million to Khoi and San communities as part of an Access and Benefit-sharing (ABS) agreement between the parties.
The first round of benefit-sharing funds disbursed to the National Khoi and San Council and the South African San Council forms part of the ABS agreement signed in 2019.
To ensure financial propriety, a lengthy administrative process preceded the R12.2m payout, the SA Rooibos Council (SARC) said in a statement on Tuesday.
As a signatory to the Nagoya Protocol, South Africa requires all who trade in indigenous biological resources, such as Rooibos, to share benefits with traditional knowledge holders in a fair and equitable way.
Negotiations between the parties began as far back as 2014, when the Khoi and San were recognised by the South African government as the rightful traditional knowledge holders of Rooibos.
“The Rooibos ABS agreement is a first-of-its-kind in the world.
“Other agreements involved specific companies and traditional knowledge holders, whereas this agreement encompasses the entire industry, ensuring all volumes of Rooibos sold are levied through one process,” the statement read.
The Rooibos industry, represented by SARC, confirmed that a benefit-sharing levy of 1.5% of the farm gate price of Rooibos will be paid out into a trust annually.
The use of the funds will be independently decided by the National Khoi and San Council and South African San Council.
Its use is primarily intended for the upliftment of these communities.
An annual report, detailing the distribution of funds, will be submitted to the Department of Forestries Fisheries and Environment.
Chairperson of the SARC, Martin Bergh said the aim of benefit-sharing funds is to contribute to poverty reduction, food security, social development and biodiversity conservation, which the industry remained fully committed to.