The North-West Government has set up a technical task team to help farmers apply for hemp permits and enter this new agricultural sector. It has appealed to local farmers and manufacturers to apply for hemp permits, saying hemp was a “low-hanging” fruit for the agricultural community.
North West Agriculture and Rural Development (NWDARD) MEC Desbo Mohono said she was aware there had been issues with existing hemp permits that had expired, but she said the hemp sector was opening up and encouraged growers and processors to get involved.
Mohono said that while the hemp application process was hosted by the National Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD), the provincial department had identified a technical team to assist the local farmers with the application process and identify the required support services.
She was quoted in SAnews.gov.za on 15 February 2022, saying:
“The legalisation and commercialisation of Cannabis sativa has been on the forefront of public debate and on top of the agenda of policymakers globally. As a role player, the NWDARD did organise a webinar last year to engage stakeholders in a collaborative effort to advance the Cannabis Masterplan Implementation process.
“In that webinar, we learned that only few farmers had permits and at the time of our engagement, their permits had expired. I know we have very passionate farmers in the province and I urge them to follow the process and to apply for Hemp Permits,” Mohono said.
The Plant Improvement Act, 1976 (Act no 53 of 1976) provides the legal framework for cultivation, distribution and sale of hemp propagating material in South Africa, since the Government opened up the hemp application process late last year
Mohono said the hemp permit process followed a 2019 Cabinet decision to have a plan for industrialisation and commercialisation of cannabis to increase economic growth, create jobs and alleviate poverty. Mohono said that although the National Cannabis Master Plan was still a work in process, she noted that the industrialisation of hemp had been identified as a low hanging fruit for farmers to seize to get into hemp this year.
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Any person who wants to engage in identified activities relating to hemp must be in possession of a hemp permit issued by the Registrar of the Plant Improvement Act.
The application process is opened to all interest groups and individuals, and application forms can be accessed through the National Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development website www.dalrrd.gov.za
Delivering the State of the Nation Address (SONA) last Thursday, President Cyril Ramaphosa announced that government will review the policy and regulatory framework for industrial hemp and cannabis to realise the huge potential for investment and job creation.
President Ramaphosa highlighted that the hemp and cannabis sector has the potential to create more than 130 000 new jobs.
“We are therefore streamlining the regulatory processes so that the hemp and cannabis sector can thrive like it is in other countries such as Lesotho,” the President said.