Dagga grannies 'must not be left behind' in rush to cultivate cannabis
Grandmothers from Umsinga, Impendle, Mzimkhulu, Eshowe and other areas in KwaZulu-Natal must be involved in the export of cannabis.
Speaking at the Cannabis Investment Protocol at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban, economic development MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube said the government did not want ordinary members of society, who were involved in the planting of marijuana, to be left behind.
“Our focus as government is ordinary communities in rural areas because they have a long history of growing and consuming cannabis – though they have been doing it illegally. Now that government is opening up opportunities, we don’t want ordinary members of society to be marginalised,” she said.
Dube-Ncube said ordinary South Africans must be licensed to grow cannabis, “as they have enough experience”.
“They have been able to grow weed despite insufficient irrigation technologies.”
Dube-Ncube outlined the government's plans to ensure that ordinary members of society benefited from cannabis:
- The national and provincial agriculture and rural development departments will assist with land access, testing, fencing and business support from the agricultural perspective.
- The economic development department and its public entities will support SMMEs and co-operatives with training, mentorship and funding for projects.
- The co-operative governance and traditional affairs department will help to ensure the participation of traditional leaders.
- The community safety and liaison department and police will play a critical role in ensuring safety and security measures during planting and harvesting.
- Dube-Ncube said there were endless opportunities to use the cannabis industry to stimulate agriculture and other sectors.
“To the Aids or cancer patient, marijuana is the plant that fights nausea and appetite loss. To the nutritionist, its seed is second only to the soybean in nutritional value and it is a source of cooking oil and vitamins.
“To the paper or cloth manufacturer, it is the plant that provided much of our paper and clothing for hundreds of years and produces four times more fibre per hectare than trees. To the environmentalist, it is the plant that could greatly slow deforestation, restore robbed nutrients by other crops,” she said.
At a business breakfast in August, Dube-Ncube said available statistics showed that the cannabis industry was worth more than R100bn a year.
The UN suggests that SA produces 2,300 tons of marijuana each year – making the country the third-largest producer of the plant and related products in Africa.
“In addition, the African Cannabis Report of March 2019, published by Prohibition Partners, estimates that by 2023, the total value of SA's cannabis industry will be about $1.8bn (about R27bn). This is based on the assumption that the government would move with speed with the regulation of the industry.
"“SA is predicated to become a major player,” Dube-Ncube said.