Sunday World (South Africa)

Bergville cannabis project launched

Three tribal authoritie­s granted licences

- By Sandile Motha sandile@sundayworl­

The small rural town of Bergville under the okhahlamba local municipali­ty in Kwazulu-natal will soon be a cannabis and hemp producing mecca.

Sipho Ndaba, one of the leading campaigner­s of the project, told Sunday World this week about the work already in progress to turn the land that has been lying fallow and uncultivat­ed for years into cannabis farmland.

“It’s been a struggle to ensure the cannabis and hemp economy is brought back to the original owners of the land. We have discovered that hemp can produce more than 400 products. Cannabis can create about 700 compounds. Bergville is one of the areas which is leading in cannabis production.”

According to Ndaba, three tribal authoritie­s were granted operating licences to run the cannabis plantation­s, making the village the only one to acquire such licences. For years, many locals have eked out a living by illegally selling the product.

“Working together with the municipali­ty, we have applied for licences through three amakhosi (traditiona­l leaders). These are the Amazizi, Amangwane and Amaswati traditiona­l authoritie­s. Local people will cultivate the land under their respective traditiona­l leaders using co-operatives,” said Ndaba.

He said the idea was not to sell the raw cannabis, but to build a laboratory, which would process the herb into various products for local and overseas markets.

Local mayor Vikizitha Mlotshwa defined the project as a game-changer for the villagers, saying cannabis has sentimenta­l value to the people Bergville. “Not many people know that in the early 1980s, elder men in the village were prohibited from planting cannabis and some were killed. Their sin was to use the land of their forefather­s to create wealth, and many were transporte­d to Pretoria by the apartheid government to face criminal charges.”

He said they wanted the villagers to benefit from the entire value chain of the cannabis economy.

“We want to transform the entire Bergville area into a cannabis city,” he said.

Other activists believe licensing will hinder rural and small holder farmers from benefiting fully from the economic spin-offs of cannabis.

They also argue the product must be treated like any other crop and the red tape must be removed.

Early this year, President Cyril Ramaphosa said during his state of the nation address the government was moving with speed to regulate and legalise the cannabis industry.

Agricultur­e, Land Reform and Rural Developmen­t Minister Thoko Didiza followed suit, announcing that her department had put forward a cannabis master-plan.

The plan, according to the department, is a roadmap towards the developmen­t of the hemp and cannabis industry.

Previous legislatio­n had criminalis­ed any kind of cannabis trade. The cannabis economy is projected to pump up to R28-million into the country’s GDP.

More than 200000 jobs could be created.

 ?? ?? Bergville, a rural town under the okhahlamba local municipali­ty, will soon be a cannabis and hemp producing area.
Bergville, a rural town under the okhahlamba local municipali­ty, will soon be a cannabis and hemp producing area.

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