khakibosFlip and Riana Minnaar’s Khakibos under centre-pivot irrigation
(Photo : Farmer’s Weekly)

There is an old fashioned element in the farming business that thinks our bleating on about the attributes of organic farming, is something that belongs with the fairies. Of course, there was a time when people spoke of global warming in the same breath, and all we say to those who second guess our practices, is have a look at the Breeders’ log.

For years, as part of our movement towards a bio-friendly approach to raising horses, we have explored ways of eliminating our reliance on synthetically manufactured products, and part of that process, in the ambit of containing parasites in our animal populations, has been to resort to natural remedies. The “old” people used to place swathes of Khakibos under their floorboards to limit the presence of fleas in their homes, and there is something in this so-called “weed” (it’s actually a herb) that serves as a natural deterrent against worms in horses.

It’s a world-wide problem today that the worms we find in our animal populations have developed their own resistance to the regular de-wormers available in the market, and since these products have in common, the use of much the same active ingredient, no matter how its dressed up, we find they are becoming less and less effective by the year.

In conjunction with the commonly known “black jack”, we have found that by allowing these herbs to exist on the fencelines and the contours of our paddocks, the frequency we need to resort to the use of regular purgatives has diminished correspondingly. So it is with some satisfaction that we read an article in the latest issue of Farmers Weekly on the value of Khakibos.

“Just outside the little village of Clocolan in the Eastern Free State (a delightful place in its own right), Flip and Riana Minnaar have based the profitability of their farm on the use of Khakibos, to the degree that they now have 500 hectares of this herb under cultivation. In their case, they converted (its common name is Tagete) into an essential oil, and from this one source, they produce some 20% of the global market, quite staggering. While the old saying “it grows like a weed”, is probably still appropriate here, the Minnaars have realised such value from their Khakibos venture, that they have a considerable acreage under irrigation pivot, thus boosting their production.”

Increasingly, the world is rediscovering its roots, and the effectiveness of natural remedies is becoming more and more apparent. Not only that. Despite the propaganda to the contrary, we’ve also discovered, that we’re able to maintain our agricultural output at previous levels, without having to rely on synthetic fertilizers and products which, apart from their capacity to lift yields, also have a proven ability to negatively affect the natural health of our soils.