As Africa clamours for solutions to the high rate of youth unemployment, an agriculture expert has suggested lavender farming as a viable option not only to lure young people into sustainable agriculture but also as a form of wealth creation.
“Besides being a great way to put money into people’s pockets, particularly young people who are faced with challenges regarding employment, lavender has many health benefits and can be very profitable for growers.
Unlike marijuana which is still illegal in many countries, you do not have to worry about the police when you grow lavender,” says John Weatherson, an expert who teaches sustainable farming methods to communities across 15 countries. “Even a small backyard lavender garden can produce a surprising amount of income. Unlike many other seasonal crops, such as flowers, that lose value when not sold at their prime just after harvest time, lavender can be dried and made into even more profitable products.”
The name “lavender” comes from the Latin verb lavare “to wash” or “to bathe.”
According to a report of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, lavender yields eight to 30 kg and 40 to 220 kg essential oil per hectare (ha) and 500 to 1 000 kg dried flower stems per hectare, depending on location, management and cultivar. The department says small producers should aim at high quality, value-added markets for essential oil and flower production. Lavender is cultivated in the Western and Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Gauteng, Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces. The weather conditions in the Western Cape are very similar to the Mediterranean climate.
Tips to make money growing lavender:
- Fresh lavender bouquets. These can be sold to the public directly or at the farmers’ market. Young people can make a lot of money in this way.
- Dried bouquets. Unsold lavender bunches can be dried by hanging upside down and sold to crafters and florists who use them for dried floral arrangements.
- Sachets. Lavender sachets can be used anywhere the air needs freshening or deodorizing, such as drawers, closets, even smelly shoes.
- Dream pillows. Lavender is known for its calming effect, so putting it in a pillow makes sense to help encourage restful sleep, and is one of the most profitable value-added products.
- Live plants.
- Pet products. There are many profitable pet products that can be made from lavender. It is a good flea repellent.
- Lavender soap.