The Okhahlamba (Bergville) mayor says the AmaSwazi chiefdom’s cannabis cultivation pilot project has been successful with the first harvest expected in early April and production will now be ramped up with other legacy growers in the region.
IOL reports that the Bergville (Okhahlamba) Municipality in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands is now expected to produce its first legal cannabis crop in the first week of April 2023.
Local municipality mayor, Vikizitha Mlotshwa, says the first yield will come from one of their three chiefdoms – Simahla area under the AmaSwazi chiefdom.
He said it was a pilot project that has proven to be a success and they would now roll it out in the other two remaining chiefdoms under the municipality.
Mlotshwa was speaking to the media on Wednesday, 22 March 2023, in Bergville where his municipality was giving feedback regarding the project which was first initiated a few years ago when the planting and use of dagga for medical purposes was legalised.
The Bergville area is notoriously known for its dagga trade which until the Constitutional Court in 2018 decriminalised the use of weed for personal use, was an underground activity.
Mlotshwa said it was wrong notion to say dagga was only used for leisure smoking, saying even in ancient times, it was used for medical purposes by the black community.
“This is how it will go, since in April it will be our (first) harvest we will then start preparing the soil since it was a pilot where only small hectares were used to plant.
“From now it would be on a bigger scale. Our bigger scale farming would start in September this year.
“Here our large scale dagga farming will be in the chiefdoms of Emaswazini, eMangwaneni (the Hlongwas) and eMazizini.
“For now we had only planted at Emaswazini because we were still piloting the project to see how it goes and we have realised that our soil is suitable,’’ Mlotshwa said.
In November last year, Mlotshwa told IOL that they have been granted licences whereby local farmers would take their yield to Inkosi (Chief).
Some of the dagga from the local farmers will be exported to overseas markets like the US.
He said according to what they have now, all three traditional leaders (amakhosi) under their jurisdiction have been granted a licence to collect dagga from people and send it to a factory located near the town of Winterton.
However, he stressed that it would not be a free-for-all, as licences would be issued after getting a police clearance.