Wildflower harvesting on the Agulhas Plain, South Africa: Challenges in a fragmented industry

  • Thijs Blokker Department of Geography, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
  • David Bek Centre for Business in Society, Coventry University, Coventry, United Kingdom
  • Tony Binns Department of Geography, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand
Keywords: Cape Floristic Region, sustainability, poverty alleviation, conservation, forum, flowers


South Africa’s Agulhas Plain is home to the Cape Floristic Region (CFR), one of the richest floras in the world and the smallest of earth’s six plant kingdoms. The indigenous fynbos flora is harvested from the wild and is both exported and sold locally. The conservation value of the CFR, and the need to address deeply entrenched socio-economic disparities and high poverty levels have set a challenging context for the wildflower harvesting industry. The strong competition which exists between producers has resulted in fragmentation of the industry and a breakdown in communication. Using data gathered from interviews and meetings with a range of stakeholders, we argue that the wildflower harvesting industry needs to cooperate and improve communication levels to address the challenges collectively. Without such a collective voice, the sustainability of the industry, the CFR and the livelihoods of disadvantaged communities will be affected. The establishment of a ‘Wildflower Harvesting Forum’ was explored as a possible solution and is recommended as a sustainable way forward.

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