ALL ABOUT HEMP
History of Hemp
Explore the story behind hemp as a plant, hemp in South Africa, the benefits of hemp, uses for hemp and more
Best Hemp Products
Explore a wide range of hemp products available in South Africa, including clothing, textiles, skincare products, health and nutrition products and many more – all curated from select suppliers in South Africa
The Hemp Industry
Learn more about the current status of the hemp industry in South Africa as well as the legal status of hemp
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THE HEMP HUB
Learn more about hemp, explore its benefits and uses, keep up to date with hemp news and discover hemp products in South Africa
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Where does Hemp farming occur in South Africa?
Hemp was first planted in trials conducted by the ARC in the North West Province, while other trials also occurred in the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Limpopo, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Kwazulu-Natal and the Northern Cape.
Hemp is a plant that is sensitive to shorter periods of daylight and its ideal growing regions are limited to the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape where growing conditions support a maximum of 13 to 14 hours of daylight.
When farming hemp, similarly to other plants, the planting date is an important part of obtaining high levels of fibre. Hemp farmers in South Africa usually import their seeds from countries such as the Czech Republic, Spain, the USA, and France.
What is Hemp?
Hemp is a subspecies of cannabis, scientific name cannabis sativa ssp. sativa. Hemp is a sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative to crops like flax and cotton, which are widely used to create a wide range of consumer products. In fact, hemp requires fewer pesticides during cultivation and provides a higher yield per hectare.
Where does Hemp originate from?
Hemp originated from Central Asia and can be traced back as far as 2800 BCE, with hemp cultivation being practiced in the Mediterranean countries in Europe in the early Christian era, spreading throughout Europe during the Middle Ages
Where is the Hemp Plant grown around the world?
Hemp is grown in China (world’s largest producer), France, Canada, Russia, the USA and several European countries. Hemp plants favour a climate that is mild to warm, with a humid atmosphere and a nutrient rich medium (with key nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium)
What is Hemp used for?
Hemp can be used to create around 25,000 products according to South Africa’s Agricultural Research Council, and it can also be grown and harvested for its medicinal properties and nutritional value.
Overview: HEMP in SA
Hemp is a subspecies of cannabis grown for a wide variety of applications, from consumer products to providing medicinal benefits.
Although hemp contains very low levels of THC (less than 3%), making it a strange plant to outlaw, it has still faced a similarly tumultuous history to the rollercoaster ride that cannabis has faced in South Africa.
Despite the favourable conditions for hemp cultivation present in South Africa, the plant is only minimally produced (in comparison to its potential), and SA actually imports a lot of its hemp products.
The demand for hemp products is present in the region, and many prospective hemp farmers have invested and lost significant capital by investing in the industry prior to the slow pace of regulatory reform and an unrealised potential for mass scale local hemp cultivation.
The ideal outlook for the future would see hemp become an asset for agriculture, as well as consumer products, healthcare and many more regulated applications in South Africa
SOUTH AFRICAN HEMP INDUSTRY
The size of the hemp industry is relatively small in South Africa in the present day. Reform is on the cards, but it is hard to say when formal regulations will come into play – which will ideally focus on allowing more farmers to obtain licenses more easily, provide access to more local and international market opportunities, create jobs and ensure a better foundation is in place for the industry.
The size of the global hemp industry was estimated at around USD 4.7 billion in 2019 and was expected to top USD 5 billion in 2020. At the moment, China produces more than half the world’s hemp supply and France is the largest producer of hemp in the European.Union.
THE SIZE OF THE HEMP INDUSTRY IN SOUTH AFRICA TODAY
THE LEGAL STATUS OF HEMP IN SOUTH AFRICA
Hemp cultivation remains illegal in SA except to those who have been issued permits. Issuing of permits for hemp cultivation falls upon two government departments – doubling the red tape required to successfully obtain a license.
The private sector is also uncomfortable putting money into hemp, as its cultivation is still widely outlawed and it is still classified as a narcotic.
In addition, it may be difficult to grow hemp within the required 0.2% THC levels because of Southern Africa’s natural growing conditions which may boost THC production levels. Illegal farmers in the Eastern Cape have also indicated that they would prefer to continue growing high THC strains than switching to lower-value hemp.
The Department of Justice has been absent from most of the cannabis industry debates, and the police have asked for clarity on how to distinguish hemp from other cannabis during field operations. At the moment, operational policies remain unchanged.
How HEMP is used in our daily lives
Clothing & Accessories
Textiles and fabric use
Hemp seed oil
Detergents and soaps
The hemp plant produces leaves and stems that are rich in strong fibres that are more durable and more absorbent than cotton and provides better ultraviolet (UV) protection.
Hemp is one of the strongest available natural fibres and can be used to produce a wide range of textiles.
Typically, the fibres are separated from the stem of the plant through a process known as “retting”, after which they are spun together to form a continuous thread that can be woven into a fabric. Historically, hemp was used for industrial purposes, especially when crafting ropes and sails (both of which require increased durability).
Hemp seed oil provides anti-inflammatory properties which can help relieve pain; promotes heart and skin health with omega-3 and omega 6 fatty acids, which also provide anti-aging benefits and may be beneficial for treating atopic dermatitis; is an effective moisturizer.
Due to hemp seed oils anti-inflammatory properties, it can be used to create natural soap formulations for dry or sensitive skin.
Hemp can be used to create printer ink, and produce jet black, grey and conductive ink outputs.
Hemp seed oil can be applied to both finished wood, to clean and protect the wood, or unfinished wood, to emphasize the richness of the wood grain and provide moisture protection. Hemp seed oil may also be used to seal stained furniture.
Hemp seed oil’s natural moisturizing properties, plus its anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties make it a valuable addition to skincare products.
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