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Explore Hemp in South Africa

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.

History of hemp overview

Explore the story behind hemp as a plant, and hemp in South Africa, the benefits of hemp, uses for hemp and more.

Hemp Industry in South Africa

Learn more about the current status of the hemp industry in South Africa and the legal status of hemp. 

Hemp Products in South Africa

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. 

Hemp News in South Africa

Stay informed about hemp in South Africa. Hemp is an asset with wide ranging potential, from providing benefits for consumers to creating economic opportunities. 

History of Hemp Overview

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. 

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 cultivativation being practiced in the Mediterranean countries in Europe in the early Christian era, and 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). 

SA cannabis economy

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 it’s 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 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. 

Uses for hemp: Hemp plant and hemp seed

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. 

Hemp Industry in South Africa

What is the size of the hemp industry in South Africa today?

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. 

What is 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. 

SA Cannabis Industry 2022

Hemp Products

Hemp can be used to make thousands of consumer products, from some of the most obvious items like hemp clothing and textiles, to hemp hair products, body products and hemp clothing, and hemp products for your skin. 

Hemp is a sustainable material that is environmentally friendly to produce, and due to its wide range of possible applications, it could be used to replace many plastics and other hazardous materials used for production in mass market industries. 

The quality of products containing hemp tend to be high as hemp is a resource that may be hard, or expensive, to obtain when producing a hemp related product. Hemp shows its worth particularly in clothing and textiles, where hemp’s natural durability is an asset. 

Explore a wide range of hemp products curated from a selection of South African retailers.

Hemp Clothing

Hemp clothing provides many advantages, it retains colour better than other fabrics, it resists bacterial growth, helps manage odors, is up to 4 times stronger than cotton and it even naturally filters UV light. 

Even though hemp is a more durable material than cotton, hemp is a very breathable fabric and it can get softer as you wash your clothes. 

Explore a selection of hemp clothing curated from South African suppliers below!

Hemp Beauty Products and hemp skincare products

There are many reasons to try hemp beauty products! Hemp and hemp seed oil have natural anti-inflammatory properties which may reduce underlying inflammation associated with skin flare ups or ongoing conditions. As a result, hemp is often used to support painful, sensitive skin.

Hemp beauty products usually consist of natural, kind formulations containing other supporting natural ingredients. Hemp can be found in all kinds of beauty and skincare products, from face creams, and moisturizers, to concentrates, body washes, and facial oils. 

We’ve curated some of the best hemp beauty products from suppliers based in South Africa to explore below.

Textiles made using hemp

It’s no secret that one of the best applications for hemp is in the textile industry. 

The natural fibres in hemp are very durable, making them ideal for textile production and design. Hemp is also naturally absorbent and is ideal for dying and staining, retaining colour better than other more widely used materials like cotton. Hemp is also naturally resistant to mold and ultraviolet light (UV). 

If those weren’t enough reasons to appreciate hemp textiles, hemp also produces 250% more fiber than cotton and 600% more fiber than flax. Pay close attention to the growth of hemp in the textile industry, with so many possibilities!

Explore hemp textiles curated from a variety of South African suppliers below.

Accessories made from hemp

Hemp is also used to craft other accessories that exhibit a natural, rustic style and may take the shape of hats, belts, socks, bags and footwears. 

Explore a wide range of eye catching accessories created using hemp, available from South African suppliers.

Hemp health products

Hemp can be incorporated into a range of health products as a hero ingredient or important supporting ingredient in other natural formulations. 

Hemp contains various nutritional benefits, including high concentrations of protein, essential amino acids (EFAs), vitamin E, iron and magnesium. Hemp is an ideal supplement for all kinds of diets and may provide a host of health benefits. 

Explore hemp related health and nutritional products curated from a selection of suppliers in South Africa.

News & Resources for Hemp in South Africa

Explore a wide range of news surrounding hemp in South Africa. Stay up to date as legislation changes for hemp cultivation, production and exportation. 

Don’t miss out! There’s such a huge amount of potential for hemp in South Africa, and the industry is set to explode once regulations are formalised.