Rooibos Co-operatives

Maria Syster harvesting tea.jpg



The Heiveld Co-operative started in 2001 with 14 founding members and has grown to 65 members. The Co-op was started as an initiative of farmers wanting a more productive and profitable way of farming and marketing their own rooibos. As with the case in Wupperthal, farmers of the Koue Bokkeveld struggled with income and had to work as farm labourers while, doing their own small-scale farming on leased land, when possible. The tea that was produced was of good quality but limited access to markets caused the small scale farmers to sell to larger commercial farmers at reduced prices. 

 The Suid Bokkeveld community heard of the success of Wupperthal and Namakwaland in collectively processing and marketing their rooibos tea and wanted to know more. With the help of various organizations including the Environmental Monitoring Group and Indigo development & change, knowledge exchange visits to Wupperthal and Namaqualand were organized to give the Suid Bokkeveld community insights into establishing their future in Rooibos Farming. After a fruitful developing process, the Heiveld Co-operative was established in 2001 with 14 founding members who adopted a draft constitution and registered as organic rooibos producers. The Heiveld cooperative became Fairtrade certified in 2003 and gained better access to the international market

Today with 65 members, The Heiveld Cooperative represents the first successful example of a black owned exporting business in the Cedarberg region. The Cooperative exports to Germany, United Kingdom, Switzerland, Italy, France, Belgium, USA, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and Australia, and created capacity building initiatives for the community.

 The Heiveld office situated in the heart of the village of Nieuwoudtville and is staffed with 3 permanent employees who manage packaging and exporting as well as providing a range of services to the members of the Cooperative.



 Farmers in Wupperthal started farming with rooibos in the early 1800s but the income from rooibos farming was poor and families struggled. During the 1990’s a group of farmers in the area began to cultivate rooibos and market their produce collectively but success was only achieved in 2009, with the formation of the Wupperthal Original Rooibos Co-operative, and attaining Fairtrade certification early in 2010. The Fairtrade certification guaranteed a minimum price that is higher than the general market price meaning the farmers were able to take home a larger profit and more time and effort could be spent on improving crop produce instead of extra seasonal work to earn a living. The Wupperthal Original Rooibos Co-operative started with 53 members and has increased to 93 members. The members of the Co-operative work closely together and support each other in capacity development, skills training and marketing their produce under their own brand.

© Indigo development & change  2015