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>>> About the DSI/ARC Honeybush Project


Honeybush tea has a long history of traditional use, but also holds significant future potential.

The South African Department of Science and Innovation (DSI) is investing R5 million in a three-year project (mid-2018 until mid-2021) to support this uniquely South African tea industry. The project, implemented by the Agricultural Research Council (ARC), provides training to rural communities where honeybush is cultivated and/or harvested. The project emphasises community development and the establishment of small, micro and medium enterprises related to honeybush tea. Furthermore, the ARC and its collaborators will focus on plant and product research. With this kind of backing, honeybush tea could become an important niche crop that contributes to meaningful socio-economic development in rural areas.

The project involves small-scale farmers and community members, as well as researchers and students at the ARC, Stellenbosch University (SU), Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT) and the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC).

The research partners focus on the cultivation and processing of honeybush tea to provide scientific evidence that could add value to the crop and boost the development of new, value-added products for local and international markets. The researchers work on several topics, including:

  • Establishing and training of 5 SMMEs in communities in honeybush cultivation;

  • Tea quality, including the roll-out of a quality grading system;

  • An accelerated high-temperature oxidation ("fermentation) process for tea processing;

  • The nutraceutical potential of honeybush; and

  • The sustainability of the industry in the face of climate change.

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Dr Aunk Chabalala (DST, wearing white) and Dr Cecilia Bester (ARC) with
the members of Kuyasa Amamfengu visiting their honeybush plantation.

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Dr Aunk Chabalala (left) and Ms Mammone Tang of DSI (middle, front) visiting the nursery of Sonskyn Heuningbos in Haarlem.