Walter Sisulu University (WSU) has formed a partnership with the Eastern Cape Hemp Producers Association (ECHPA) to see how hemp can address the needs of local communities. The National Research Fund has agreed to fund the cannabis research project to the tune of R10 million over three years.
Principal researcher, Professor Adebola Oyedeji said in the WSU newsletter on 24 March 2022 that one of the starting points would be to research the nutritional value of hemp seeds. These are rich in protein, fibre, and healthful fatty acids, including omega-3 and omega-6. They have antioxidant effects and may reduce symptoms of numerous ailments, improving the health of the heart, skin, and joints.
“The hemp project started in 2019, but we were struggling to get a permit to carry the project until COVID-19 came along and we had to pause with everything,” said Prof Oyedeji
The Professor said she was introduced to the Komga-based ECHPA secretary, Nomathamsanqa Madliwa, during COVID-19, but were only able to meet and discuss a way forward when the lockdown restrictions were eased.
“I applied for the NRF funding for rated researchers and in December 2021, we received it.
“The funding is for three years, and it is mainly for the cannabis research. So now we have the funding and the permit and that means we are ready to start.”
Through her research in cannabis, Prof Oyedeji is now also a member of the Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform steering committee in the Eastern Cape, where they look at other agricultural research going on.