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 Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF), 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.
Activities and first results
In 2019 the project primarily focused on collaborating with SMEs from South-Africa and the region with respect to a) strengthening their technical capacities and business skills with respect to accessing national / international market with new products based on indigenous biodiversity and b) providing financial support to address functional gaps in the value chain by setting up a grant mechanism.
All support activities were assessed to contribute to the South African Biodiversity Economy Strategy impacting conservation, sustainable use, benefit sharing and rural development.
Stakeholder Synergy Progressing
The public and business support stakeholders within the Biotrade sector is very fragmented making it difficult for companies to understand regulatory requirements and where to look for support. With this in mind, ABioSA in collaboration with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) Global Quality and Standards Programme (GQSP) both SECO funded programmes are hosting the Biotrade Stakeholder forum with the aim to create an understanding of the role and responsibilities of each of the public and private institutions/organizations supporting the Biotrade Sector. The challenge is to get the different entities to pursue synergies, amplify knowledge spill-overs and improve the overall dynamism between a wide network of actors within the sector.
Innovation Facility Round 1
As in many other sectors access to finance for Small and Medium Enteprises (SMEs) and Business Support Organisations (BDOs) to overcome regulatory hurdles and develop new innovative products is a challenge. After a detailed scrutiny process nine SME and one industry association are receiving financial support. To offer further support, a workshop addressing all the GIZ procurement procedures, administrative and contractual requirements was held with ABioSA grantees. The workshop was well received by the grantees. The call for the next round of grant funding applications to offer this innovation facility to additional SMEs is on its way.
ABS Capacity Development Programme Workshops
Many of the SMEs applying for funding from government incentive schemes or financial institutions find the process overwhelming and impossible. To assist the potential respondents of the next round of grant funding the first capacity development training workshop was held in April 2019. The aim of the workshop was to introduce the SMEs selected for the ABioSA capacity development programme to stakeholders, support available and introduce some of the training areas that will form part of the programme.
Further to the introductory workshop the ABioSA team also held three workshops in June/July addressing regulatory compliance, finance and technical business writing with the same 22 SMEs. The Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) presented at both workshops on their proposal and financial requirements as part of SME applications, lively discussions followed the presentations. Positive feedback was received from the SMEs, it was indicted that the information shared were relevant to their business as one of the participants responded after the compliance workshop “The trainer was extremely experienced and with his knowledge was able to present complicated information in a simplified, relevant manner which was easy to understand and follow”.
Market Access and Development
A dossier (collection of documents) is a compliance requirement for products to legally enter the EU market in the Biotrade sector. ABioSA is conducting studies to define a strategy that will enable greater sector compliance of SMEs products for export to the EU cosmetic/personal care and food markets through collective or licensing mechanism, whilst facilitating optimum levels of ownership by SMEs of the dossiers and product specification. These studies are expected to be concluded by the end of 2019.
The First Workshop on Marula Sustainable Supply, Use and Conservation
The ABioSA team, working with partners and sector stakeholders, is embarking on an exciting initiative of facilitating the preparation of a Southern African marula sector development plan. The first of a series of marula workshops was held in July 2019 addressing sustainable supply, use and conservation. The purpose of the workshop was to initiate a process on understanding the current status of the sustainability of supply of marula, and the establishment of baseline information to contribute towards a regional marula sector development plan. Participants proposed new ideas and key potential informants and stakeholders were identified to contribute towards a regional marula sector development plan. A regional marula workshop will be held in November 2019 at Nambia.
The Second Workshop on Marula: Sector Development Plan
The second of a series of marula workshops was held in November 2019 in Windhoek, Namibia. More than 50 delegates from the southern African biotrade sector gathered to consult on a future potential sector development plan for Marula. Participants from Botswana, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe included representatives of harvesters and primary producers, the development sector, government and its implementing agencies, and people involved in manufacture or trade in Marula products. This process was started at CSIR, Pretoria with the National South African Marula workshop that took place in Pretoria in July that focused on Sustainable supply, Use and Conservation. The workshop was arranged by the SECO-funded ABS Compliant Biotrade in South(ern) Africa (AbioSA) project with support from the GIZ funded Biodiversity Management and Climate Change project, in collaboration with the Namibian Ministry of Environment and Tourism.