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A business case for sustainable wildflower harvesting

Does the wildflower harvesting industry need a Sustainable Flower Harvesting Assurance System – and if so, how should it be structured to add value to the industry and make business sense? 

An initiative to address this is currently being led by TOMA-Now | Tomorrow Matters Now together with Flower Valley Conservation Trust, supported by the Biodiversity Component of the Western Cape Government Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning (Department). The development of a sustainable wildflower harvesting assurance system is being explored in terms of the value it could bring to the industry.

A clear and viable business plan is the first step to the development of a feasible strategy for the implementation of this assurance system across the Western Cape. It forms part of the Western Cape’s Provincial Biodiversity Economy Strategy, to support and create opportunities within the green economy.

What’s the business potential? 

The targeted outcome is to facilitate the development and implementation of a sustainable flower harvesting assurance system.

“This is an opportunity to create an inclusive approach to propel the industry forward. The key to the development of the assurance system is to understand the value it can bring while highlighting the uniqueness of Fynbos and the legacy of the harvesters,” said Dr Jaisheila Rajput, CEO of TOMA-Now.

According to Flower Valley’s Conservation Manager, Kirsten Watson, key stakeholders in the industry, particularly the Western Cape, are engaging in transparent discussions. “We are excited by this process – there’s extremely important information being gathered. It’s important that legislators understand the advantages and some of the challenges currently facing the sector. The business plan will look to provide solutions to some of these challenges. So this is a powerful opportunity for the Fynbos sector.”

Albert Ackhurst, Head of Component Biodiversity at the Department, said:  “The Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning through the Biodiversity Management Unit views the project as a major step forward to ensure transformation, access to global markets and equitable trading in the natural products industry.” 

Sharpening the industry’s value proposition 

The dialogues themselves are being used to obtain a clearer understanding of the business potential for the assurance system. They will establish the viability of an assurance system, the benefits this will afford and ultimately, sharpen the value proposition for the industry.

The impetus of this work is based on the recognition by the Department that there is a need to effectively manage and coordinate biodiversity management inclusively. There needs to be an increase in capacity and knowledge of the requirements to competitively practice in the sector. This challenge is exacerbated by onerous and costly processes linked to attaining certification for the industry.

According to Ackhurst, “If stakeholders agree, and the business plan supports the implementation of an assurance system, the focus will be on potentially having a system that is a coordinated step-up approach in building the capacity and competence of the harvesters and farmers towards attaining compliance.”

The process will be completed by April 2019 when the outcomes, findings and reports will be communicated with organisations in the flower sector.

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