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Eastern Cape delegation embark on understudy mission on cannabis in Canada

25 October 2019

The MEC for Rural Development and Agrarian Reforms (DRDAR), in the Eastern Cape Makhosazana Meth will be heading a delegation encompassing various Mayors from Eastern Cape to Canada from 25 October to 2 November 2019. The purpose of the planned outward mission to Canada (Toronto) is to do an understudy on Cannabis as Canada is advanced in Cannabis cultivation and its products utilization.

According to Zimkhitha Macingwane from OR Tambo District Municipality, the cultivation of cannabis is one of the proposed catalytic projects as stated by President Ramaphosa when he visited Mpondoland in September and that the area is dominant in the primary production of the plant (Cannabis). In the Mpondo Kingdom, which is often referred to as the “headquarters” of cannabis production in the Eastern Cape, cannibas has been grown for centuries for cultural, medicinal and recreational purposes to mention a few. It is a way of life, livelihood and part of the heritage of amaMpondo people. MeC Meth extended the invitation to the Mayors of the Municipalities in the Mpondo Kingdom namely, OR Tambo District Municipality and Local Municipalities, notably Ingquza Hill, Port St Johns, Nyandeni and Ntabankulu.

The visit is said to be part of the Eastern Cape Provincial Government approach of taking a deliberate decision to transform and develop the economy of the Province by facilitating the development of Cannabis sativa industry, agricultural commodities and other sectors. This visit emanates from the stakeholder engagement Summit that was held on 1-2 August 2019 in East London (EL), International Convention Centre (ICC), which facilitated interactions between Eastern Cape Cannabis stakeholders and Government to determine the support government can render in the development of the Cannabis industry in the Province.

The Summit resolved that, for the Cannabis industry to develop and achieve the intended objectives of the Eastern Cape Provincial government, there is a need to also attract investment. During this Summit, Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane emphasised the potential to develop a thriving, legal cannabis economy in the province to create jobs as well as the important role of local government in this regard. The DRDAR, it is reported, was given a responsibility to lead the development of the Cannabis industry in the Eastern Cape Province since this is an agricultural plant. Emerging from the Summit resolutions as well as the commitments that were made by the Consul General of South Africa in Toronto (Canada) Goso, engagements were undertaken and these yielded to the outward mission to Canada.

South African government is looking at developing and supporting this industry which is seen as an important potential contributor to the economy of South Africa and can assist in tackling the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality. Sustainable, responsible and inclusive development of this sector can have positive economic spin offs both for the broader South African economy and local rural farmers. Cannibas is critical for many purposes, for example, the fibre of hemp which is referred to as a strain of the Cannabis sativa plant species hemp seeds and their oils are essential for medicinal purposes for example in treatment of pain, controlling nausea and vomiting for cancer treatment, appetite stimulation for people living with HIV/AIDS and eating disorders, and other ailments. It is also used for paper, clothing, building materials, biofuel, food products, and beverages. It is estimated that by 2023 the South African domestic market for cannabis and related products could be worth up to R27 billion.

Opportunities also come with challenges. Challenges include coming up with ways and means to ensure that rural farmers do benefit from the commercialisation of the plant including in the production and supply. Other challenges that have been raised include barriers to entry, extensive list of quality control measures and infrastructure that needs to be implemented, accompanied by prohibitive costs as well as expensive licence application fees that may not be afforded by the ordinary farmer including the other logistical challenges involved.

Creating more dialogue in this regard with Traditional Leaders and rural communities, establishment of mutually beneficial partnerships with the local communities or farmers or cooperatives as well as providing the necessary support and capacitation including in skills development and infrastructure remains imperative. Countries like Canada who are more advanced in the commercialisation of cannabis provide a platform for the Eastern Cape delegation to obtain knowledge which will help them in making the vision of using cannabis to boost the economy, tackle unemployment and poverty come through.




February/March 2020








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