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Growing Hemp legally in South Africa

Hemp farming in the Western Cape and surrounds.

There is a lot of renewed interest from people all over South Africa who want to obtain a permit to legally grow and cultivate hemp to unlock its commercial value and produce fibre and CBD Oil.

Bast fibrous renewable materials, as commercial crops for the manufacture of textile based and other products, have been used for thousands of years to satisfy certain human needs, such as for shelter, clothing, source of energy and tools, and to sustain the livelihood of many communities in countries, such as in Asia, Europe and Africa.
Concern for the environment has led to a number of global initiatives that favour the use of natural fibres.
It is forecast that the global fibre demand by 2050 will be 130 million tonnes, which the cotton and synthetic fibre production will not be able to meet. Other than the environmental concerns, the renewed global interest in natural fibres, such as flax and hemp, forms part of a strategy to satisfy the fibre demand.
South Africa, notwithstanding the fact that the flax and hemp industries have long been established for thousands of years in Europe, Asia and Egypt (Africa), has no history of the breeding, growing, processing and production of these cash crops. The renewed global interest in these crops has also stimulated interest from South Africa with respect to the development of a flax and hemp fibre industry so as to address some of the socio-economic challenges confronting the country today in its attempts to bring about real development in the rural areas through the cultivation and complete beneficiation of these fibre crops. In this regard, the relevant stakeholders, namely government, research councils, tertiary education institutions, farmers and communities worked together to investigate whether South Africa has the agronomic and climatic conditions, technical expertise as well as the necessary processing and production infrastructure to support the development of a local flax and hemp agro-industry.
The purpose of this study was firstly to evaluate the performance of EU flax and hemp cultivars grown under different agronomic conditions in South Africa, and their effect on straw biomass yield, fibre yield and total fibre yield per hectare as well as associated fibre properties, and secondly to undertake mechanical fibre modification trials aimed at producing flax and hemp fibres with fibre diameters close to those of cotton. The minimum fibre diameter targeted being 20µm.
In accordance with the project objectives and work plan, selected dew retted flax and hemp straw samples from the various planting sites selected by the Agriculture Research Council – Institute for Industrial Crops, representing all the agronomic conditions under investigation, were taken to the CSIR for fibre extraction and testing. A relatively inexpensive and easy to operate Russian designed and manufactured machine, the CMT-200M was used for fibre extraction and the resultant extracted fibre bundles were further refined, using a steel comb, to obtain optimal fibre separation before their physical and chemical properties were evaluated.
Results obtained in this research study proved that the climatic and agronomic conditions in South Africa were suitable for the cultivation of flax and hemp, notwithstanding the fact that the fibre yields achieved for hemp were lower than the minimum criteria of 23%, and that for flax only just exceeded the 25% minimum. The lack of local technical expertise on the growing and retting of flax and hemp, contributed to the low fibre yields. The planting parameters which were found to produce good results for the cultivation of hemp were the October planting date, using a row spacing of between 12.5 to 25 cm, with a seeding density of between 80 – 100kg, and the application of 50 – 100kg nitrogen fertiliser. The use of extra artificial lighting and herbicide treatment did not appear to beneficially improve the hemp fibre yields. Similar considerations for flax cultivation in the Southern Cape region, particularly Oudtshoorn and Outeniqua, indicated that May to July planting dates, using interrow spacing of 25cm and sowing density of 63kg seed.haˉ¹, produced a fibre yield  and total fibre yield per hectare above the minimum values of 25% and 0,8 tonnes per hectare, respectively, quoted in the literature.

Read more below.

Are you interested in getting a licence/permit to legally grow, cultivate and process Hemp to make for instance, CBD Oil in South Africa? Then please have a look at the Section 21 application above which is the legal means or route to obtain a permit to farm Cannabis Sativa L or Hemp in South Africa.

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