The Baviaanskloof is home to three of the world’s critical biodiversity hotspots, the Cape Floristic Region, the Maputaland-Pondoland-Albany hotspot and the Succulent Karoo hotspot. It hosts a wide variety of plants that don’t occur anywhere else.
Decades of goat farming has led to massive land degradation. If goat farming remains the primary form of income in the area, the land could well become desert. Grounded has worked together with Living Lands, Commonland, and local farmers. to create a viable solution to the problem. Commonland is the founding partner of Grounded and we used Commonland’s Four Returns model to create a new way forward with the area’s farmers.
Living Lands had been active in the area for seven years. Together with the farmers, they built up a large knowledge-base and developed an in-depth understanding of the challenges and opportunities of restoring the land. They also built strong trust-based relationships with the community. The challenge was to find a workable economic model that would support the transition from goat farming to something else that was more sustainable and profitable and that would also restore soil quality, increase the vegetation cover and add to the water table.
The business model we developed with the farmers introduced essential oils as an alternative source of income. We started with organic lavender and rosemary as they need very little water and require 100 times less space than goats. The farmers have established a company called “Baviaanskloof Development Company” which processes and markets the essential oils. Grounded assisted in the establishment of this company and continues to provide managerial support.
Our Progress in Baviaanskloof
The Baviaanskloof Development Company has almost finished the establishment of 100 hectares of rosemary and lavender. We received a long-term loan from Commonland to set up the business. The processing facility is close to completion, and the first crop has been harvested. In addition, farmers have already made land available for restoration. With Living Lands, we have been able to attract funding from The Coca Cola Africa Foundation to restore 1.500 hectares of degraded land, which means millions of trees will reintroduced onto the hillsides. The project is generating at least 15 to 20 full-time jobs at the moment.