The air is filled with aromas such as camomile, lemon balm, peppermint and caraway. Thousands of bright red chilli peppers and hibiscus flowers lie in the sun to dry. A huge variety of organic herbs and spice plants are processed on the pilot farms of the Martin Bauer Group in Zimbabwe, southern Africa. As many as 400 permanent and 500 seasonal new jobs are thus being created.
The German company, based in Vestenbergsgreuth, Middle Franconian, is specialised in fruit and herbal teas. It has been running the project for more than three years: in cooperation with the local partner company Organic Africa, the firm is operating two pilot farms in climatically opposed regions. About 40 percent of the land on the farms is used for growing herbs, spices, medicinal and aromatic plants. The other 60 percent is intended for cultivating food plants and for the natural process of hydrogen fixation via micro-organisms which keeps the soil fertile.
Test phase for the cultivation of organic plants
The plan is to produce around 300 tons of organic and Fair Trade-certified herbs, spices, medicinal and aromatic plants on the two farms. Following the pilot phase the farms are expected to be
In addition to the demo farms, a comprehensive training infrastructure is being set up for ecological agriculture and wild plant gathering. In each case this consists of a training centre, a training farm and a processing facility.
Here small farmers and wild plant gatherers learn how to produce, process and store high-quality herbs, medicinal and aromatic plants. As part of the project, 2,500 small farmers, 500 contract farmers, 1,000 wild plant gatherers and 400 farm labourers are receiving training. Around 70 percent of those being trained are women.
The German Investment and Development Cooperation (DEG) is co-financing the investment, using funds from the develoPPP programme of the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation (BMZ).
As climate change is making itself increasingly felt through alterations to the rainy and dry seasons, the agricultural training sessions are helping the farmers to produce climate-adapted foods for their own consumption and for the regional market. In addition, the training in herbal and spice plants ensures that the product quality meets international market requirements and that post-harvest losses are reduced.