2008 Finalist Projects

Change is Brewing

Heiveld Co-operative - South Africa

The Heiveld Co-operative gets small-scale farmers a fair price for their organic Rooibos tea.

The highlands of South Africa's cape are one of the country's poorest areas. The low rainfall and poor soil in the area make farming difficult but these conditions are perfect for Rooibos plants. The local Koysan people have long sworn by the medicinal properties of Rooibos tea. Free from caffeine, the tea has now become popular among the health-conscious.

Koysan farmers were routinely exploited in a market dominated by big agriculture companies. As Heiveld's Barry Koopman remembers, "We didn't know much about business and marketing. You would just take your tea to a company and they would say 'it's this much per tonne', and you'd just have to accept it. You couldn't protest."

But in 2001, 14 Koysan farmers formed the Heiveld Co-operative to win a better deal for themselves. The Co-operative took charge of every stage of tea production, from growing to marketing to export. They were helped by a new consumer preference for fair trade and chemical-free produce. Heiveld tea is now on sale in the US, Australia, New Zealand and much of Europe and the marketing team is developing taste combinations to crack new markets.

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