Record Rooibos plantings amid growing recognition of export potential

A Rooibos plantation in the Western Cape Source: Meropa Communications

Growing demand for Rooibos – both locally and abroad – has seen farmers almost doubling in a decade the area planted.

According to Nicie Vorster, spokesperson for the SA Rooibos Council (SARC), a record high of 57 000ha has been planted as more farmers, especially those in the Swartland region, have cleared existing farmland to make way for Rooibos. 

The sector is also attracting more growers, especially grain farmers, who are looking to diversify, since Rooibos is a hardy, dry land crop which is generally less affected by drought when compared to other rain-dependent crops, she says.

About half (between 6 000 and 7 000 tonnes) of Rooibos is consumed locally, while the balance is exported to more than 30 countries, including Germany, the Netherlands, Japan, the UK and US.

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