In the Suid Bokkeveld in 2003, a prolonged drought wiped out most of the small-scale farmers' cultivated rooibos. Since then they have been engaged in a process of learning and action to enhance their resilience in the face of climatic variability.

Every 3 months members of the community (young and old, men and women) gather to share their records of the weather in the previous quarter, discuss weather impacts and their responses to these, review long term forecasts, develop plans to adapt their farming practices and livelihood strategies and learn more about the drivers of climatic change and its effects.

A similar programme has been implemented with the Ericaville Farmers Association who cultivate honeybush tea near to Plettenberg Bay.

Farmers have modified their farming practices and have appreciated the natural adaptation of wild rooibos to increasing temperatures and drought events, recognising that husbandry of wild rooibos provides a safety net that reduces their vulnerability and conserves biodiversity at little or no additional cost.

Fire trials in the Suid-Bokkeveld. We believe that to effectively counter degradation, local organisations and communities living in drylands should be at the heart of the effort. We work together to promote the involvement of these organisations and communities in the national and international arenas of decision-making.

Rural Development - Resources

Co-published (2015) by the UNCCD and Tudor Rose, Living Land includes a chapter on EMG's work with small-scale rooibos farmers in the Northern Cape.

The Sustainable Harvest of Wild Rooibos, (2007) Noel Oettle and Rhoda Malgas, EMG (2.1MB) -- ook in Afrikaans beskikbaar by EMG

Juweel van die Berge: Handleiding vir die organiese rooibosboer (2002) Oettle, EMG

Amazing Grace – A mealie farmer’s story (2002), Illustrated by Carlos Amato, EMG & Biowatch, 2nd Ed.

Capitalising on local knowledge - Community knowledge exchange: A toolkit for the preparation, implementation and evaluation of community-to-community knowledge and learning exchanges (2002), Oettle & Koelle, Toolkit 1 - Methodological overview & case studies, Toolkit 2 - Guidelines for Implementation , World Bank

Everybody's cup of tea: Community Action and Rooibos tea (2001) Noel Oettle