Government gives UFS tea farming project a financial boost

Photo: Klipopmekaar

Two South African government departments have granted the University of the Free State’s Department of Pharmacology a combined amount of R15 million for the establishment of four tea farms in the disadvantaged communities in the North West and Eastern Cape Communities.

The head of the project Prof Motlalepula Matsabisa at the Department of Pharmacology said that the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) has granted an amount of R10 million for the community research in the respective provinces.

This grant is a top up to the R5 million they received from the Department of Science and Technology for the “community implementation on indigenous health infusions or teas as commonly known.”

The DEA will in the near future sign a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the university.

“The project is to implement and build structures in the four communities we work with in the North West and Eastern Cape,” he said.

The identified areas for the project are in the Eastern Cape towns of Alice and Idutywa as well another two North West communities in Zeerust.

Prof Matsabisa indicated that the project will be a manifestation of “how science can contribute to economic growth, poverty alleviation and job creation.”

“It was very interesting to have discovered that some French and German companies have already displayed interest in the projects,” he said.

He stated that a project of this nature is a good initiative by the UFS and it will also show that the university’s research activities are national. “We have been researching and developing indigenous teas which have now attracted interest locally and internationally by huge companies such as Nestle, Tiger Brands, Moringa World etc,” he said.

At the initial stages of the tea farming project, Prof Matsabisa said they would start in small portions of utilising five hectares in each of the four projects and as the project gains momentum, they would expand.

Prof Matsabisa said that an environmental impact assessment has already been conducted and they were waiting for the DEA to give them a go ahead for the land preparations.