Skills development within the herbs and spice industries is not only needed, but the industry also provides a well-needed chance for skills development. Through training and upskilling, growers can obtain an income, improve their products, and even create multiple streams of income through processing, marketing, and distributing the products.

In Africa in particular, the development of skills are seen as a solution to the growing numbers of unemployment, and a step to alleviate poverty and famine. The thought process behind this is that more skilled individuals will be able to generate an income as they will have more options available to them. Of course, solving the unemployment crises that Africans face is not as simple as that, but if you are in the industry, improving your skills will result in a better product and higher profits.

Benefits of developing skills for the herb and spice industry

There are multiple reasons within the herb and spice industry, to ensure that growers and processors receive training to develop their abilities and knowledge. First, upskilling starts on the farm. Farmers can increase their knowledge about growing spice and herb plants to ensure better harvests. This can happen by investigating the types of crops that will fare best in your area. After identifying the crop you are investing in, it is important to familiarise yourself with the requirements of the plant need.

This relates to irrigation, fertiliser, and crop health. Better care leads to better quality plants as well as increased harvests. Secondly, skills development in the spice industry helps growers improve the quality of their products. That means that it is not only more crops that are harvested but also better quality crops. Next, growing herbs and spices is an excellent add-on to an existing farm. Because some of the herb and spice crops take up less space than other crops, it is an ideal addition to any farming operation.

Herbs can be grown between rows of fruit trees in an orchard. The plants draw nutrients from the carbon that the tree deposits into the soil, all while being protected from the harsh sun under the trees. What is more, this shady area allows the herbs to be more water efficient since less water evaporates in the shade. Leaves from the trees that fall and decompose is natural compost that supply additional nutrients to the soil. You can still produce a herb or spice cash crop throughout the year, even if your fruiting trees are out of season.

Finally, expanding skills and knowledge within the industry also includes the opportunity to learn more about processing herbs and spices into other products. As mentioned in an earlier article in this series, these compounds are used in food, health products, and cosmetics, so learning how to process the crops for a specific purpose increases the value of the product.

Growing herbs and spices take up less space in comparison to other crops. This makes it an easy addition to your existing farming operation. (Source: Pixabay)

Areas to develop in the herb and spice industry

Areas in which growers can obtain training consist of more than learning how to plant a seedling and harvesting the crop.

These also extend to:

  • Crop harvesting and storage
  • Processing
  • Product safety
  • Marketing
  • Distribution and sales

Crop harvesting and storage:

Certain crops require specific storage that helps it last longer. Training will help to prevent damage as well as cleaning and storing the products for transportation.

Upskilling means also gaining more insight into the correct way to care for your herbs, like adding driplines for irrigation of basil plants. (Source: Pixabay)


In processing herbs and spices, it is important that the individuals handling the products know how to properly process it. This can include drying, grinding, bottling, packaging, preserving, or extracting.

Product safety:

Products for human consumption need to be safe. This means no harmful pathogens or mould should accidentally form in the products. Understanding how the product needs to be handled and packaged safely is necessary.


Marketing the end product may not be necessary for every grower, but in some cases, marketing your products can grow your business. You should learn how to market your products through the whole value chain.

Distribution and sales:

This type of training and skills development relates more to the business of farming. It is not enough to produce herbs and spices if you do not know where you are going to sell your product. If it is at the market, then you will need to think about how you are getting the products to the market.

It is important to know how and when your herb crop should be harvested. (Source: Pixabay)

How can farmers obtain training?

Depending on the individual’s access to information, this can be challenging. On the one hand, internet access is more widespread than it was a decade ago, meaning that anyone has access to information in the palm of their hands. But on the other hand, data is sometimes costly, limiting the amount of time farmers can spend researching. As an alternative, farmers can approach their local cooperative and inquire about information.

In Zambia, for example, Holland Greentech provides farmers with information as a part of their service offering. Their knowledgeable agronomists guide farmers in choosing the right fertiliser for their crops and instructing them in how to use it. In other parts of the continent, such as Ethiopia, government initiatives support growers in poor communities to generate an income and provide food for themselves. In this particular case, the Ethiopian government worked with Farm Africa, a charity organisation, to help women living in the Hadero and Halaba to grow food. Find out if your government has programmes that can assist you with learning how to grow your spice crops. Various online programmes are available.

Online training for spice production addresses important information regarding raw materials, machinery, equipment, and business plans. It can also include recipes for spice mixes. You can also look at specific courses relating to business, horticulture, marketing, or even manufacturing essential oils.


Good manufacturing practice (GMP) guide for spices (2023) American Spice Trade Association. Available at:

How to start a spices business (2023) Gaebler Ventures Resources for Entrepreneurs. Available at:

Spice Processing Online Course (2023) Entrepreneurship and Skill Development Institute. Available at:

Spice production and marketing (2023) Farm Africa. Available at: