Many KZN farmers receive permits to cultivate cannabis

More than 600 KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) cannabis and hemp farmers were granted permits to cultivate, store and transport the product with a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content of not more than 0,2%.

Many KZN farmers receive permits to cultivate cannabis
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The permits were issued at the inaugural KZN Cannabis Expo held at Okhahlamba Sports Complex in Bergville, Drakensberg on 27 and 28 October.

The event, under the theme ‘One Love, One Heart’, was hosted by the Departments of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA) and Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) in conjunction with the KZN provincial government.

With about R107 billion of value at stake in the local cannabis industry, KZN Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube together with the EDTEA MEC Siboniso Duma and DARD MEC Super Zuma are leading radical interventions, such as the expo, to unlock the province’s potential.

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In line with the province’s vision of growing the local economy, the two-day expo provided a platform for local cannabis and hemp farmers and for those with an interest in the sector to engage with business and academia.

A total of 664 farmers were recipients of the hemp permits. Additionally, several local businesses who will be providing services to permit recipients received R300 000 each.

Services include processing, erecting tunnels and providing lab equipment, packaging, irrigation, testing, the issuing of certificates after testing, branding, as well as finding a market for farmers.

Dube-Ncube said the groundbreaking expo would forever be etched in the minds of the people as the starting point of a new era for the cannabis sector in the province. She also shared that many milestones had been achieved through the KZN Cannabis Master Plan.

“Through DARD we have set aside an amount of R47 million for cannabis research. We have allocated R10 million to assist farmers in cannabis production and hemp permit application.

We have facilitated an investment commitment of R120 million, and we have participated in the Cannabis and Hemp Phakisa Action Lab in order to secure much-needed policy coherence and to ensure closer collaboration amongst government entities.”

Dube-Ncube said there were ongoing pilot projects targeting commercial growers and that the province had supported several investments leads that were in the process of rolling out district-based capacity building programmes under the umbrella of the proposed KZN Cannabis Association.

Zuma said the province had worked steadfastly, and the time to unlock prosperity through the hemp and cannabis sector had come.

“We have ensured a smooth process for our hemp permit holders, and we covered all their costs. We are winning the fight to alleviate poverty and unemployment and we are extremely proud of the ongoing collaborative work that continues behind the scenes, and I must say all our efforts have yielded fruit,” said Zuma.

Sphelele Shezi, a permit recipient from uMzinyathi District Municipality, said this was the beginning of great things for her small business producing hair products and that the success of the products relied on hemp seed oil.

“I applied for my permit in July because I want to start extracting oil to use in our hairspray. We also manufacture shear butter, which will soon be hemp infused. This permit will allow my business to grow, and I have a vision of owning a manufacturing plant that will open up job opportunities,” said Shezi.

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Jyothi Laldas is an accomplished journalist with 15 years of experience in the news media industry. She has established herself as a respected voice in the field, known for her keen insights and passion for storytelling. Jyothi grew up on a farm in rural KwaZulu-Natal, a background that instilled in her a deep appreciation for hard work and the importance of community. Her passion for writing and learning about people has been a driving force throughout her career, enabling her to connect with her audience and bring important stories to light. Jyothi‘s journalistic journey has been marked by her dedication to providing accurate and impactful reporting on a range of topics.