Farmers in Action
Scatters Oils plays a vital role in development in the Essential Oils Industry in South Africa. We work from grassroots levels with our farmers and we work hand-in-hand to develop sustainable commercial supply of high quality essential oils. With years of experience we are able to help new and existing farmers with prospective and existing crops. We partner with Government, Municipalities and community farmers to assist in the production of essential oils.
Scatters oils places vital importance on propagating correct species of crops. Joining market demand and quality expectations Scatters Oils is able to manage the farming projects from germination to fruition.
Here, below indulge yourself with leisure reading of our many exciting African experiences through the years of trials and adversities of developing the essential oil market.
On 740 ha of beautiful undeveloped land set against mountain slopes with a view out over the plains to the Indian Ocean, Johan and his wife set up a makeshift cabin – where they are living while they build a home of their own, starting from nothing. With Scatters Oils’ guarantee that it would buy, at a fixed price, any organic essential oils that he could produce, Johan was able to raise funding to buy his farm.The Grahams weathered a major setback when a fungal infection (one of the risks of organic farming) wiped out their first Buchu crop. Replacing the Buchu with Tea Tree has brought success, along with a thriving yield of Roses and Rose Geraniums. With the help of only a few permanent assistants and occasionally bringing in a team of seasonal workers, the Grahams have planted 10 ha of land. With the harvests finally bringing in income, the Grahams will be planting on another 20 ha over the next two years.The Grahams now produce their own certified organic oils, using distilling equipment supplied by Scatters Oils. Their oil is delivered in bulk to Scatters, from where it is distributed to the export market.The oil stills on the Graham farm are wood-fired, relying on a plentiful supply of non-indigenous Black Wattle trees that grow on the farm. Harvesting the Black Wattle trees for firewood fortunately complies with local environment measures to eradicate this water-hungry parasite plant from the natural habitat of the Western Cape.The undeveloped Agricultural land in Africa has a vast potential to bring economic benefits to the communities that live there. It is thanks to market demands for essential oils and facilitationby Scatters that an enterprise like the Grahams’ can be established, providing jobs to severalworkers, who in turn support extended families.Johan says that farmers in the area have a responsibility to become involved in the social upliftment of the surrounding communities, starting with decent wages and fringe benefits, a responsibility to which the Grahams are fully committed.
The Grahams also have staff retention policies such as paying for the education of their employees’ children. The full credit for this success is attributed to the vision and tenacity of the Grahams, along with technical and market support from Scatters Oils.In an environment where government incentives for new farming initiatives are still underdeveloped and restricted to certain target groups, it is the pioneering spirit of small farmers like the Grahams that is contributing to the economic empowerment of Africa.
In the southern part of South Africa, Scatters owns a small piece of land on which Demascena roses are grown. This carefully selected land has been developed and primed to grow the Damascena Rose Bush. The delicately fragranced rose petals are picked and used to a make a 100% Organic Rose / Jojoba Maceration.
The roses bloom in October every year, after which the petals are harvested and gently submerged in Jojoba oil. The oil is gradually heated, allowing it to absorb the fragrance molecules. The sagged petals are removed from the oil once they start to turn brown. After weeks of slow brewing, an amazing, gentle rose odour fuses with the Jojoba to present our proudest and most exquisite maceration yet. This oil is perfect for perfumery and high-end cosmetics.
During April 2014, Scatters took a refreshingly cool trip to the Northern part of South Africa, to visit three of its farms. The team had the honour of hosting Andrea Butjé during her trip to South Africa, and travelled north to the rural area of Tzaneen, where our Tea Tree and Lemon Tea Tree are grown.
At the time, it was harvesting season and both 500-kilogram pots were in operation. The Trees grow to approximately two meters over a one-year period and are then mechanically cut using a modified lawnmower.
The farm is 100% organically certified and expansion plans are under way. Various eucalyptus species were planted on this farm, and the team took a few moments to check on them and ensure their positive progress.
The following day, the team travelled to the local citrus processing facility. April and May are prime citrus season, so the trees were heavily laden with fruit. Once harvested, the fruits are sorted before they are tunneled into the cold pressing machine.
The fruit is mechanically pressed to extract the juice and oil phase from the ripened fruit. This juice and oil are then collected before the oil is separated off the juice phase and used in the confectionary and flavoring industries. The juice is condensed (water removed) and exported. Scatters receives the oil fresh from the press.
Andrea was given a complete tour of the citrus oils and citrus essences, from start to finish. The fruits are collected in large bins and taken to the processing facility in large trucks. Once they reach the processing facility they are taken out of the trucks, put into large bins and washed.
Andrea enjoyed this visit and found it very informative and interesting. The last moments of the tour were spent at the cold pressing facility, which deals mostly with avocado oil and Macadamia nut oil. The avocados are stored in cold stores while the macadamia nuts are freshly picked.
Once harvested or taken from storage, the avos or nuts are put through a mechanical screw press with no heat added, and the refined oil comes out perfectly smooth. The oil is then slowly filtered, leaving a beautifully clear, filtered oil.
One of the Central African farms currently offers Eucalyptus oil as its main commodity. However, the nursery is being expanded to run trials on geranium, lavender, marjoram and palmarosa. This farm employs 180 people, who play a role in keeping the crops in order.
These crops are all in the early development stage. Site visits entail viewing the crops and discussing future planning to meet market demand. Crop yields and crop conditions are also checked and discussed. The distillation facility is also checked, and any problems discussed.
After a 10-hour journey on rural roads to the next farm, the Scatters team got a good night’srest, before visiting the second farm which grows tea tree, lemongrass and rosemary. Once again, the day was spent discussing crop yields, distillation techniques and where support is required.
This farm employs 240 staff and has funded the building of a school, in collaboration with the local chief. All the staff are fed and given accommodation on the farm. Various relief efforts are also put into the local community in the surrounding farm area.
After an adventurous trip home, the oils were analysed and markets explored to supply the high-quality oils which farmers faithfully produce for Scatters.
Cool Cape Breeze….
The Scatters team enjoyed another refreshing visit to the Cape. With over 15 farming platforms in the Eastern and Western Cape area, a new farmer was visited. He is expanding into Eucalyptus, Lavandin, Tea Tree and Geranium crops, grown organically.
The aim is to ensure the farmers can grow successful and sustainable crops for the future. As such, Scatters walks alongside the farmers from grassroots level to help with support and farming advice.
During this particular visit, the mission was to secure the correct Lavindin species for the nursery to ensure that the propagation of the crop is done with the correct plant species. Lavandin Grosso was selected for this particular farm.
Scatters’ 200-litre mobile distillation vessel was moved to this farm for future distillations. This was done to ensure the harvesting times were correct, and the plants were at the optimal growth phase to produce the best quality oil.
During this visit, time was spent walking through the nursery of new seedlings growing patiently, waiting to be transplanted at the right time. At that stage, the plan was to cover another 20 hectares of land over a year. As a result, the nursery was full of new little plants which were under the constant care of the farmer. These little plants require high moisture, warm air and perfect soil conditions to thrive and to prevent a high mortality rate.
While the plants are growing in the nursery, the land is prepared thoroughly. The farmers work tirelessly to remove weeds, trees and rocks. This process is very labour intensive and may take weeks to complete. Once the land is ready and the seedlings are ready, they are transplanted out. This process is done by hand and can take a week. The new plants will need water daily to ensure that they do not dry out or die.
During this visit, the established crop of Eucalyptus trees was visited. These trees are harvested every five months and kept small to increase leaf count with smaller branches.
There are currently three Eucalyptus tree species growing on this farm:
- Eucalyptus Radiata
- Eucalyptus Smithii
- Eucalyptus Dives
After years of trials, the right species was achieved, which yields high amounts of oil at the right quality. The new tea tree (Melaleuca) crop was also looking lovely. Once transplanted, the trees garnered a 95% success rate. They survived the cold winter and looked strong and healthy. Four months later, the trees were successfully harvested.