Over the past two years, 138 fynbos harvesters received training in how to harvest fynbos sustainably. 

They were trained in their own home language (Afrikaans, isiXhosa and English). And they received the training in harvesting sustainably, as per the Flower Valley Code of Practice, and in threats to fynbos. 

But does training really make a difference and help fynbos harvesters pick more responsibly?

To answer this question, the University of Durham, Newcastle University (both in the United Kingdom) and the University of Cape Town undertook a training evaluation, to assess the impacts of the Flower Valley training. The evaluation was undertaken shortly before lockdown commenced in South Africa.

The evaluators asked three questions:

  • How important is it to have the training – including the field guide and training film material – in your own language?
  • How has the training supported your knowledge and application of the Sustainable Harvesting Code of Practice?
  • Since the training, how comfortable are you with understanding the threats to fynbos?

They then worked with a sample of 31 of the harvesters who went through the training.

Here’s what they found:

Home language was actively emphasised as important.

It led to a deeper understanding of the content. Following the home-language training, pickers are now more confident and comfortable with good harvesting practices. It even led to a new-found interest in fynbos. The home language training and the book-form training material also seemed to provide a greater sense of ownership in the process for harvesters, many whose families have been involved in the industry for generations.

Harvesters wanted to have even more information. 

While many of the harvesters are comfortable with their understanding of the sustainable harvesting principles, many felt that they now wanted to know more. Multi-generational harvester’s seemed to have a sense of identity with flower picking, and many expressed their passion for fynbos and the work that they do. They see the Code of Practice as a good thing and there is an understanding of the need to apply good practice. 

Harvesters now understand the threats to fynbos. 

All 31 harvesters also understood the threats to fynbos – even though many hadn’t known of these threats before the training. The threats include: leaving waste in the veld, poor picking practices, fire, and string (baling twine) used to make flower bundles.

The researchers also suggested expanding the role of the team leaders. Well-engaged team leaders are able to maintain good sustainable harvesting levels among their team members, to help protect fynbos landscapes.

A note of thanks

Thank you to the University of Durham, Newcastle University and the University of Cape Town for their support with this evaluation. A special thanks to Cheryl McEwan and Alex Hughes for their wonderful support to Flower Valley over the past decade, and Molly Anderson for contributions to the report.

Flower Valley Conservation Trust

Natural Resource Management: Sustainable Harvesting Programme

When fynbos is picked sustainably, you not only protect the fynbos kingdom for future generations, you also protect the livelihoods of those who harvest it. 

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