Starting An Essential Oils Enterprise From Scratch
Farmer's Weekly|April 2, 2021
After attending a farmers’ day in 2018, Oniccah and Naledi Nkoe decided to start farming herbal plants to produce essential oils. They have since expanded plantings and launched their own essential oils business. They spoke to Salome Modiselle and Sandile Mahlangu, researchers at the Agricultural Research Council.
Salome Modiselle and Sandile Mahlangu

Mother-and-daughter team Oniccah and Naledi Nkoe, who are based on a 21ha property on the outskirts of Bronkhorstspruit, east of Pretoria in Gauteng, started farming in 2006. Their first enterprise was a piggery, but when the market for pork slumped they switched to broilers and vegetables. This combination offered the quick turnover and cash flow they needed to grow their business.

In 2018, at a farmers’ day workshop in Bronkhorstspruit, they were introduced to essential oils, and specifically the production of rose geranium. Shortly after attending the workshop, they took part in the South African Essential Oils Business Incubator (SEOBI), where they gained extensive knowledge about the production of rose geranium and other essential oil plants.

SEOBI transfers appropriate technologies and training to emerging farmers to help them start or increase commercially viable essential oil production on their farms. The SEOBI essential oil masterclasses enabled Oniccah and Naledi to venture into the production of essential oils, focusing on rose geranium, marjoram and vetiver grass. “We produce about 1ha of rose geranium and 50m2 and 100m2 of marjoram and vetiver respectively. We still use the remaining part of the land for broiler and vegetable production,” says Oniccah.

ADDING VALUE

Oniccah and Naledi have grown in their production and knowledge of essential oils and have also added value by establishing the iKetle skincare product lines. According to Onnicah, iKetle means to be relaxed or tranquil, and is a reference to the aromas and benefits of the plants that she and Naledi want their clients to experience when using their products.

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