SEOBI is a business incubator started by SEDA (Under the Department of Trade and Industry) that is focussed on establishing Essential Oil agri-businesses in the small producer sector.

After various earlier field visits and negotiations we signed an agreement with them in 2009 that would see Nqileni ultimately developing into a hub for a larger essential oil project in the region. The goal of this visit was to engage with them to establish a timeline for moving forward and to show progress made to date. We also planned to coincide their visit with that of Old Mutual in the hopes of strengthening a working relationship that would ultimately be beneficial to all three parties. The field visit was made by Ndwakhulu Mukhufhi, the CEO of the organization.

The field visit was very successful and we achieved the following objectives:

  • Firm commitment from SEOBI to proceed with the planting of 5 hectares of trials in September or October 2010 (dependent on the arrival of the rains)
  • We established a working plan for moving forward to achieving this timetable.
  • We established a working timetable through to the harvesting and sale of the trial crops.
  • We drafted an action plan for getting the Essential Oil Community Committee to establish a co-operative funded and assisted by the Mthatha SEDA office.
  • SEOBI visited a number of the 14 fields that are planted and seemed positively surprised and impressed by the way the individual farmers are taking responsibility for their crops and expressed very positive feedback on this.
  • SEOBI expressed strong agreement with the structure that we have established whereby each farmer is responsible for their own land and resources, rather than creating a larger, jointly owned farm. They found numerous examples of how this differed positively from other projects they had seen.
  • Overall SEOBI expressed a strong and positive opinion about all the aspects of the development of the project since their last visit and a desire to move forward to scale the existing project up.

This agreement will enable us to rapidly upscale this poject and expand its impact beyond Nqileni Village.

Well done to the Essential Oil Project team for making this happen – Felix, Phumzile and Charles!