A cold front has swept through the Eastern Cape, and the cloud cover hangs grey and wet over the automotive town of Uitenhage.
About 7km outside the town on KwaNobuhle farm, the rain falls stutteringly on hectares of geranium, slightly bruising the leaves and filling the air with their musky and sweet scent. In a few months, the leaves will be picked, distilled and a concentrated oil will be sold off to the highest bidder.
The aim of a partnership between the local community, the department of science and technology, the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), and the European Union (EU) is to create rural development and industry through science, technology and innovation at KwaNobuhle farm.
The project produces a cross-bred rose-scented geranium strain on 28 hectares of land, which is owned by the Uitenhage Small Farmers Trust. By the end of the year, the land usage will increase to 35 hectares, says Marthinus Horak, manager for essential oils and medicinal plants in the CSIR’s enterprise creation for development project…
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