You are here:

ABS Compliant Biotrade in South(ern) Africa

The Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) contributes a total of 3 Mio. CHF (about 2,5 Mio EUR) to the ABS Initiative. These funds are earmarked for supporting specifically ABS compliant Biotrade in South(ern) Africa. Focus is set on South Africa (70%) and other SADC member states (30%).

Implementation started in March 2018 and will end in September 2021 (3.5 years).


The project aims to create a high-growth jobs-rich and innovative biotrade sector that complies with international and domestic ABS regulations. It supports sustainable development goals and contributes to the livelihoods of rural people and the productive use of South(ern) Africa’s plant biodiversity. It aims to create permanent and seasonal jobs in biotrade value chains, while substantially boosting the value generated from biotrade products from the region.

Modes of delivery

The project works with selected biotrade value chains and plant species, including some which straddle national borders. These are being identified based on criteria including traditional knowledge, ecological sustainability, market demand, potential for value-adding and job creation, and the participation of communities and small businesses.

A close partner is the Department of Environmental Affairs, which leads the SA government’s approach to biotrade. This collaboration takes account of existing policy and legislation, such as the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act (NEMBA); and the Bioprospecting Access and Benefit Sharing (BABS) regulations which govern access to South Africa’s plant resources and ensure communities benefit from their utilisation.

South Africa’s National Biodiversity Economy Strategy provides an excellent platform for development and growth of the biotrade sector.

The project supports the achievement of key government targets including job creation, empowerment of women and rural development - in South Africa and the region.