Agbe Farm trading under the AgbeNoir brand, is a business, dedicated to utilising the opportunities presented by the traditional African healing market, and which are currently not catered to at all. We have seen in recent years, an explosion of growth in the alternative healing environment, but most of it is geared to western natural healing, and this has now become extremely pervasive and widespread, crossing over into everyday household use, where it has become the norm.
Think of, for example, lavender oil, a traditional European healing herb – once unknown, now used in many uses in the home – with lavender being farmed around the world, essential oil being used commonly. Or even the more traditional Moringa tree. This is now being ground into powder, and being sold widely grown and harvested for many commercial and domestic uses. These are examples of traditional plants which were difficult to source until they commercially started being farmed and distributed.
There are many others, which traditional African healers use every day. It is estimated by management thatevery traditional healer requires access to approximately 300+ herbs every year to run their traditional healing practices. Some of these are needed every day, and some are used more sparsely – depending on the nature of the healing required. Currently, based on a number of interviews and direct research conducted with traditional healers, each of them spends almost 50% of his or her time sourcing products, ordering them, importing them, and collecting them from customs – and this when they have a special traditional healer’s license/passport which facilitates access. It can be more time if the healer does not have this type of license. Ben-Erik van Wyk, Bosch van Oudtshoorn and Nigel Gericke, in their 1999 book called Medicinal Plants of South Africa, state that traditional healers in South Africa utilize 3000 of the over 30 000 plants species found in South Africa.
This is the market that we cater to. Ilse Truter in her work on African traditional healers, states that there are over 200 000 traditional healers (either Sangomas (diviners) and Inyangas (herbalists) practicing in South Africa alone – compared to the 25 000 western trained healers. Traditional healers are consulted by approximately 60% of the South African population, usually in conjunction with modern biomedical services.
Agbe Farm has recently started a growing programme for a number of these healing and spiritual plants, which will be ramped up in future, and will service the local market.