Executive Director, Southern African Essential Oil Producers Association, South Africa
Karen Swanepoel is an Executive Director of SAEOPA (Southern African Essential Oil Producers’ Association), involved in many industry studies in the field of essential oils since 2000. She has lectured on botany, bio-entrepreneurship, biotechnology and environmental science. She also presented papers at IPUF (Indigenous Plant Use Forum) and on international level at WOCMAP (World Congress on Medicinal and Aromatic Plants), ISEO (International Society of Essential Oils), ASNAPP (Agribusiness in Sustainable Natural African Plant Products), Green Gold, SAAB (South African Association of Botanists), African Crop Science Society, Agricultural and Training World Conference, CHEMRAWN (Committee on Chemical Research Applied to World Needs) and Industrial Crops and Rural Enterprises. She did publications for the Department of Trade & Industry, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry & Fisheries and Acta Horticulturae. She worked as a consultant for UNIDO in the GQSP-SA (Global Quality and Standards Programme - South Africa) project.
The essential oil industry is a fast-growing and changing industry and African plants are now fashionable to be included in new products containing natural products. Essential oils such as Agathosma spp. Pelargonium var Rose, Lippia javanica, Eriocephalus punctulatus, Helichrysum splendidum and cold- pressed or vegetable oils of indigenous plants amongst others are the focus areas. Adansonia digitata (Baobab) and Schlerocarya birrea (Marula) oil, and the pulp and powder of both are undersupplied in a growing market of currently developed products that have already been accepted by most international companies. Ximenia africana and X. americana, Citrullus lanatus (Kalahari melon) and Shinziophyton rautanenni (Manketi/Mongongo) oils are now researched for developing market demand and for the requirements in the natural products industry. It is applaudable how much effort has gone into the recognition of intellectual property rights and humanitarian benefits of a relatively small industry. Regulations and standards for Agricultural practises, sustainable collection, conservation and organic practises, labour and social issues as well as labelling and safety are initiated and adhered too. Even packaging, storage and transport has regulations. Producers are often complaining about the extent of documentation that is needed to export. Many of these regulations are externally formed by bodies of the trade while the industry should be more self-regulated either by governments or standard bodies that are affiliated with International Standard Organization (ISO). This could empower the producers and enhance quality production while improving the tendency of the producers to be price takers instead of price makers. There are almost no existing standards for quality of the products from Africa and if the demand increases, the most-needed standards should be developed at the same time to avoid exploitation. Advantages and challenges have been identified concomitant with the potential of sustainable crop development and ten species with most potential is discussed. The Botanical name, the international CAS (Chemical Abstract Services) number where applicable, ecological status, agricultural information, characteristic component of each oil is mentioned, applications, market trends, development towards a standard, comments and concerns as well as progress of standard were tabulated for the ten species mentioned. Despite climate change and pressure on natural resources the crops can be managed if sustainability measures are carefully and timely taken to the alleviation of poverty in rural areas. Unfortunately financing for these entrepreneurs of natural products are problematic. Financial institutions are not keen to finance high risk perceived industries like oil-bearing plant crops. The notion that natural products are supplied by less developed countries for products sought after by effluent societies still exist. The industry needs to convince these financial institutions with production built on known and controlled quality systems as sustainable and profitable. Governments should assist the new niche enterprises to grow to its full potential. This paper could assist role players of community projects and agricultural and rural development schemes in decisions of choosing alternative crops and for skills and entrepreneurship development and poverty alleviation. The information can also be applied by government departments, small-scale and emerging farmers in the feasibility studies of the utilization of natural products as new enterprises to the ultimate advantage of the producers of South Africa and the consumer.
- Plant Genome Science
- Agricultural Science
- Molecular Plant Breeding
- Stress Signalling in Plants
- Plant Proteomics and Plant Science
- Plant Morphology and Plant Metabolism
- Crop Improvement and Plant Virology
- Plant Nutritional Genomics
- Plant Biotechnology
- Medicinal and Aromatic Plant Sciences
- Plants and Climate Change- Overcoming Measures