A total of 664 hemp and cannabis farmers received permits granting them authorisation to cultivate, store and transport content with a Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) limited to 0.2% by the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD).
The permits, which were handed over at a provincial Cannabis Expo and Conference in October, will allow the farmers access to cutting-edge technology through the Analytical Lab at the Cedara Agricultural Training Institute.
Local business who will be providing services to permit recipients were also granted R300 000 each. Services include processing, erecting tunnels and providing lab equipment, packaging, testing, and finding a market for farmers.
KZN Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube said the expo and conference marked a “new era for the cannabis sector in the province,”
“Through DARD we have set aside an amount of R47 million for cannabis research. We have allocated R10 million to assist farmers in cannabis production and hemp permit application.
“We have facilitated an investment commitment of R120 million and we have participated in the Cannabis and Hemp Phakisa Action Lab in order to secure much-needed policy coherence and to ensure closer collaboration amongst government entities," she explained.
While pilot projects targeting commercial growers are ongoing, the province has supported several investment leads that were in the process of rolling out district-based capacity building programmes.
Reaping the rewards
DARD MEC Super Zuma said: “We have ensured a smooth process for our hemp permit holders and we covered all their costs. We are winning the fight to alleviate poverty and unemployment and we are extremely proud of the ongoing collaborative work that continues behind the scenes, and I must say all our collaborative efforts have yielded fruit,” Zuma said.
Permit recipient, Sphelele Shezi, said this was the beginning of great things for her small hair products business.
“I applied for my permit in July because I want to start extracting oil to use in our hairspray. We also manufacture shea butter which will soon be hemp infused.
“This permit will allow my business to grow and I have a vision of owning a manufacturing plant which will open up job opportunities,” Shezi said.
Nonhlanhla Qhoboshiyane, a hemp and cannabis farmer from Durban, was introduced to the plant after she and her husband were diagnosed with cancer 2016.
“We used hemp oil and we would make cannabis leaf tea to help with the pain.
“These plants are from the Lord, created to bring about economic recovery in South Africa, there should be no stigma attached to them. The rural economy will grow because of hemp and cannabis,” she said.