E Cape hemp producers seek government support

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Eastern Cape hemp producers are calling for government assistance with resources to participate meaningfully in the hemp value chain market.

Most producers lack suitable machinery for production and processing. This issue arises as the provincial government explores the hemp industry as a potential economic booster.

Currently, there are 100 licensed hemp producers in the Eastern Cape. Most rely on manual labour for planting and harvesting. Thami Malinda, Chairperson of the Eastern Cape Hemp Producers, says they need planting materials, including cultivators and planters, to be competitive in this fast-growing market.

Malinda says, “It is really important for us to come to this stage where we are going to produce and be able to get something out of our produce because when we were busy with the research, we were producing and not able to sell. Now we are going to sell. We are going to have off-takers and be able to sell to other producers, so that’s the difference.”

The Fort Cox Agricultural College has partnered with the Eastern Cape government to upskill hemp producers. Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane says the hemp and cannabis industry has great potential to unlock the provincial economy.

Mabuyane says, “The high unemployment rate in our province is something that must be confronted, something we must fight with everything that we have. If we are focused on issues like these, definitely nothing is insurmountable. We are quite optimistic with the work that has been done, thanks to the team that is hard at work.”

Potential investor Nyameko Goso emphasised the need for a conducive environment for the industry to thrive. Goso says, “The first thing primarily is the legislative framework. As long as that is not sorted, we can never get the full potential of this industry. If it’s not sorted in South Africa, you can never get the full potential of this industry and for the local farmers to benefit.”

Last month, a manufacturing plant for processing cannabis for medical purposes was officially opened in Gqeberha.

Drive to create sustainable cannabis industry in SA continues