Improving market access for emerging South African rooibos farmers project report


Project Summary: Fair Trade’s rapid growth offers the potential for empowering small farmers via access to high‐value markets and support for community development and sustainable production. In South Africa, Fair Trade can help combat acute racial and gender inequalities, building on post‐Apartheid policies and NGO initiatives in agriculture. While some smallholder farmers have increased their wellbeing through Fair Trade, emerging black farmers historically excluded from land and market access have yet to gain entry into these beneficial networks. This project identified the challenges and opportunities for integrating emerging farmers into Fair Trade and associated value‐added activities. We focused on rooibos which can be cultivated in arid soils with little capital investment. The project fostered racial equity and combated poverty in one of South Africa’s poorest regions and promoted gender equity, recognizing that women play a key role as farmers and household workers yet are often the most disadvantaged. We built the organizational capacity of the Rooibos Council, established an Emerging Farmer Working Group, including a women’s networking group, and provided training in certified and value‐added market access, biodiversity preservation, and fiscal management. The project directly benefited over 500 community members; we extended benefits via policy engagement at national and international levels.




South Africa