What we do

/What we do
What we do2016-11-22T08:30:22+02:00
farmer training

We transform neglected and underutilised indigenous plants into viable commercial “crops” that generate benefits for rural people and their environment.


BIZ uses three main strategies for each focus species: conducting robust research, developing commercial products and helping rural producers develop their farming and business skills to grow their enterprises. As no two plant species are the same, different steps may be required for commercialisation of the species, and hence the exact process may contain different steps.

In general these are:

BIZ is currently developing and/or managing the development of the following types of products from underutilised plants:

  • Herbal Teas
  • Health Foods and Traditional Foods
  • Medicinal Plants
  • Natural Cosmetic Ingredients
  • stock feed ingredients
  • furniture
  • renewable fuel wood and charcoal

Conducting robust biological, market and industrial research

indigenous trees nursery
  • for each species, a detailed commercial feasibility study is conducted to assess each species’ commercial potential, looking at how it has been used in other countries, what commercially relevant properties it has and what the market opportunities are;
  • mapping the distribution and density of plant species, identifying those areas where the plant is found in healthy and commercially useable volumes;
  • implementing propagation and field trials of selected species to determine production capacities and yields, and optimum conditions
  • undertaking toxicology and efficacy trials to demonstrate the safety and functionality of plants as foods, and beverages, cosmetics and/or medicines.

Developing commercial products

  • each species has a commercialisation strategy developed for it, informed by biological, market and industrial research;
  • researching and analysing market data to understand the size and characteristics of potential markets;
  • designing and managing production, branding and marketing strategies to bring new products to local and export markets.

Helping rural producers develop their farming and business skills to develop their enterprises:

group of people participating in a training under a large baobab tree
  • providing practical and user-friendly commercial advice to small and medium-scale enterprises based on underutilised plants;
  • giving insight and guidance into appropriate smallholder crops to enhance livelihoods and food security, reduce dependence on agro-chemicals and inputs, strengthen resilience to climate change and support sustainable biodiversity management;
  • providing training and capacity-building to smallholders and support organisations around production, processing, quality management, certification and marketing;
  • facilitating the attainment of organic, Fairtrade and Ethical BioTrade standards and certification by producers; and
  • developing commercial linkages between smallholder producers and companies involved in processing and marketing, as well as between companies in different parts of the value chain.