Tea farms project funded

2019-01-30 06:00
Prof. Motlalepula Matsabisa

Prof. Motlalepula Matsabisa

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The University of the Free State’s (UFS) Department of Pharmacology is buoyant to receive R15 million to lead the establishment of four tea farms in the disadvantaged communities in the North West and Eastern Cape.

Funds are courtesy of two South African government departments, the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) and the Department of Science and Technology (DST).

The head of the project, Prof. Motlalepula Matsabisa at the Department of Pharmacology, said the DEA forked out R10 million for the community research in the respective provinces while the DST availed R5 million for the implementation phase. He said the DEA will soon sign a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the university.

The identified areas for the project are in the Eastern Cape towns of Alice and Idutywa as well as in two North West communities in Zeerust.

Matsabisa indicated that the project will be a manifestation of “how science can contribute to economic growth, poverty alleviation and job creation.”

“It was inte­resting to have disco­vered that some French and German companies have already displayed interest in the projects,” he said.

He stated that a project of this nature is a good initiative by the UFS and it will also show that the university’s research activities are national.

“We have been researching and developing indigenous teas which have now attracted the interest of locally and internationally companies such as Nestle, Tiger Brands, Moringa World, and more,” he said.

At the initial stages of the tea farming project, Matsabisa said they would start in small portions of utilising five hectares in each of the four projects and as the project gains momentum, they would expand.

He said that an environmental impact assessment has already been conducted and they were waiting for the DEA to give them a go ahead for the land preparations.


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