Making the change: the farmers form the Heiveld Co-operative

The founding members of the Heiveld defined its mission:

The mission of the Heiveld Coop is to produce and market the finest organic rooibos tea at fair prices on behalf of our members and thereby create a better life for small-scale farmers and other less privileged members of our community.

The mission also states:

We will achieve this by establishing long-term trading relationships with fair trading organisations and promoting the sustainable production and harvesting of organic and wild rooibos tea.

Through sound shared values, clear vision, hard work and democratic decision making, the Heiveld Co-operative has worked with its fair trade partners to create a better life for its members and others in the community. The Co-operative pays the highest prices in the industry, and helps its members to farm in sustainable ways. It has ignited the pride and grown stronger on the basis of the spirit of independence of the community. However, it is important for the Heiveld to be able to grow with the aspirations of its members, especially the younger people who would otherwise have to migrate to the towns and cites to search for work.

Periodic droughts devastate the cultivated rooibos lands, and in the dryer areas where most Heiveld members farm rooibos production dropped to almost nothing following the failed rains of 2003. This deepens poverty and also threatens the Heiveld’s markets. Both the farmers and their co-operative need more land to produce more rooibos.

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