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KZN puts up R10 m to kickstart provincial hemp industry

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The KwaZulu Provincial Government has allocated an initial R10 m towards hemp research and has applied for 36 cultivation licenses for growers. 

KZN MEC for Economic Development, Nomusa Dube-Ncube said on 13 August 2020 that an MoU had been signed between the department’s Moses Kotane Institute of Technology’s Cannabis Unit and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research). The funding would be used to do a financial and due diligence on possible hemp cultivation sites. 

She was quoted in IOL as saying the agreement was “specifically crafted to deal with matters of agro-processing, pharmaceuticals/neutraceuticals and laboratory facilities”.

Dube-Ncube said they were also helping communities to get licensing to cultivate the product and working with other government departments to get access to land, fencing and testing.

“We have applied for 32 cultivation permits with SAPHRA (South African Health Products Regulatory Authority). We are hopeful that 32 farmers within the province will be granted such permits and these will benefit local communities. In addition we are capacitating these farmers through our enterprise development program,” she said.

Krithi Thaver, founder member of the Cannabis Development Council of South Africa told IOL that cannabis could tackle many of the challenges facing South Africa right now.

“There are thousands of cannabis growers that have been growing cannabis in rural communities that are generational farmers. Once this process has been formalised, it will unlock the full capability of the cannabis plant. If we define the rules to suit our country and its people, and do not get side tracked by international players coming in to dictate how this process can go forwards, Africa, not just South Africa, but Africa can be one of the largest players in commercial cannabis and I foresee our Rand being stronger than the dollar, but important political decisions need to be made to allow the entire industry to unlock by incorporating the people that been been cultivating it for millenia,” he said.

Thaver pointed to many uses of cannabis and said that there were about 50 000 uses of the plant. Some these uses could be helpful to some of the challenges that faced South Africa. These uses include the hard hit textile industry where instead of importing textiles,cannabis can be cultivated to create materials that are as soft as silk and tough as jeans. This could add thousands of jobs to the economy he said.

Another use for cannabis was that it could help with the food crisis that is happening right now and boost people’s immune systems to combat Covid-19.

“The cannabis plant contains various compounds and is capable of acting as a super immune booster to the human body. With the current COVID-19 Pandemic, local production of medication can assist in taking care of the lack of medicines in the public sector and can also create superfoods for the hungry”.

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