The Department of Trade, Industry and Competition has come out guns blazing in support of cannabis reform. Speaking in Bergville in KwaZulu Natal, Deputy Minister Nomalungelo Gina said cannabis had the potential to create jobs and increase income in rural areas.
Deputy Trade Minister Nomalungelo Gina says the Bergville area in KwaZulu Natal is an ideal environment to grow cannabis and wants to “nudge” the local community to grow more for the “international and domestic markets”. She told a community development summit on 30 November 2022 that the cannabis sector has a huge potential for development for the small, medium and micro enterprises (SMMEs) located in rural areas where poverty is concentrated.
"Government estimates that the cultivation and commercialisation of cannabis production in South Africa can generate an estimated R28 billion and could create between 10 000 to 25 000 jobs across the sector” she said.
"Focusing on value chains from cultivation and agro-processing to sales, will increase benefits and job creation," said Gina.
She added that as part of the rural economy, agriculture and agro-processing are at the heart of driving the countryside economy.
"Although Bergville has fertile land for various crops, it has a unique climate that is favourable to the growing of cannabis.
"We are here to nudge you as people of Bergville to focus more in particular on the growing of cannabis, and the agro-processing of cannabis for markets both domestic and abroad," Gina said.
The aim of the summit was to identify gaps and explore opportunities in the agricultural sector value chain within the district and the province.
The summit was also aimed at promoting and developing the agricultural sector within the municipality for both commercial and small-holder farmers, as well as promoting youth and women participation in the agricultural sector.
Gina noted that the Bergville processing plant in Winterton which was built by the Industrial Development Corporation had setbacks which government and stakeholders were currently trying to resolve for both owners and the communities affected.
"UKhahlamba and the region of Bergville are sleeping giants in terms of economic prosperity. It is a region full of great history and memorials for tourism.
"Located in the Drakensberg Mountains close to Lesotho and QwaQwa in the Free State, the municipality must use the value proposition of tourism to create local economic development and job creation."