The work of our country’s scientists can be used by any of us to improve our lives.
The Department for Science and Technology says government projects include science to help people turn their skills and knowledge into small businesses or work which enables them to earn an income.
Farm workers in the Western Cape have made the most of the ‘Hands-on’ aquaculture project. For this project, the Department of Science and Technology partnered with the University of Stellenbosch to train over 150 local wine farm workers to become fish farmers and businesspeople.
The new farmers operate from 13 small-scale trout farming projects. They use their new skills to run a small trout-farming business. By December 2005, they began to supply a company in Franschoek processing trout into food. To ensure that the project keeps growing, the Hands-on Fish Farmer Co-operative Limited was formed. It helps member farmers with start-up funding and busioness. Another 12 fish farming projects should come into operation in 2006.
Projects like this help build skills of local people and create opportunities in low-cost technology to create jobs. Richard Holden, Director: Science and Technology for Social Impact explains: “We continuously identify opportunities for the development of local communities to address poverty. In partnership with academic and research institutions, we can help communities to gain the skills they need to make the most of these opportunities. The Department’s funding is the ‘start-up’ capital for projects which, if successful, will not only provide jobs but could also attract private investors in the long-term.”
At Giyani in Limpopo, the Department has helped local people use their knowledge of indigenous plants. The Hi-Hanyile Mosquito Repellent and Essential Oils Project, started by the DST in 2001 in partnership with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), provides jobs to 67 locals. They have been trained to farm plants and to extract essential oils, using simple scientific processes. It was during this phase of the project that researchers from the Scientific and Industrial Research worked with traditional healers in the area to develop effective mosquito-repellant from oils of an indigenous plant.
In 2005, the Department funded the building of a factory in Giyani where this oil could be used to make mosquito-repellant candles and local people were trained to operate the machinery. The candles are being sold in South Africa and there are plans to market them internationally along with the essential oils farmed through the project.