‘Dagga grannies must not be left behind’
Grandmothers from Umsinga‚ Impendle‚ Mzimkhulu‚ Eshowe and other areas in KwaZulu-Natal must be involved in the exporting of dagga.
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 people who were involved in the planting of dagga 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 [dagga] — though they have been doing it illegally.
“Now that the government is opening up opportunities‚ we don’t want ordinary members of society to be marginalised‚” she said.
Dube-Ncube said citizens must be licensed to grow dagga “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 citizens benefited from dagga:
• The national and provincial agriculture and rural development departments would assist with land access‚ testing‚ fencing and business support from an agricultural perspective;
• The economic development department and its public entities would support SMMEs and co-operatives with training‚ mentorship and funding for projects;
• The co-operative governance and traditional affairs department would help to ensure the participation of traditional leaders; and
• The community safety and liaison department and police would play a critical role in ensuring safety and security measures during planting and harvesting.
Dube-Ncube said there were endless opportunities to use the dagga industry to stimulate agriculture and other sectors.
“To the Aids or cancer patient‚ marijuana [dagga] 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.
The UN suggests that SA produces 2‚300 tons of dagga 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 would be about $1.8bn (about R26.6bn).
“This is based on the assumption that the government would move with speed with the regulation of the industry.
“SA is predicted to become a major player‚” Dube-Ncube said. — TimesLIVE