Gauteng growers lead the way in cannabis license rush

In line with MEC Parks Tau’s vision for Gauteng, SAHPRA has already issued 11 cannabis cultivation licenses to growers from this province. Gauteng is now looking at further ways to unlock the high-potential cannabis economy

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Eleven of the 29 cannabis cultivation licenses issued in South Africa are for Gauteng growers. This has been confirmed by Daphney Fafudi, compliance manager at the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA).

SAHPRA is set to issue many other licenses for the cultivation, manufacturing, importation and exportation of cannabis in Mzansi. Currently, the organisation is filtering through some 200 licensing applications.

Fafudi was speaking at a webinar hosted last week by the Gauteng department of economic development, agriculture and rural development. Participants deliberated on how the province could further unlock its cannabis economy.

Daphney Fafudi, SAHPRA’S compliance manager. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi
Daphney Fafudi, SAHPRA’S compliance manager. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

According to Fafudi, SAHPRA and various stakeholders last month decided to not limit the regulation of cannabis for, among others, medical and scientific use. They did not want to restrict further growth in the booming industry.

“As a regulator, we have realised that there is huge interest in this industry, so we, as SAHPRA, have been participating with the ministerial advisory committee, inter-ministerial committee on the masterplan and individually,” she said.

SAHPRA also engaged with various government departments and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) to ensure that regulation was “effective but … not a barrier to the industrialisation of cannabis.”

Exuberant licensing costs

Fafudi indicated that, currently, a licensing application cost R25 200. However, they were looking at ways to make this more affordable.

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“We are also trying to look at various mechanisms of how we can issue affordable licensing cost for those who are able to demonstrate that they will participate in the medical cannabis base,” she said.

Cannabis boom in Gauteng: Gauteng MEC for economic development, environment, agriculture and rural development, Parks Tau. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi
Gauteng MEC for economic development, environment, agriculture and rural development, Parks Tau. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

Meanwhile, Gauteng MEC for economic development, agriculture and rural development Parks Tau said cannabis plays a crucial role in the national and provincial economy. Cannabis is included in the Growing Gauteng Together 2030 (GGT 2030). As such, the issuing of cannabis licenses are key.

“The GGT 2030 strategy is premised on the number of strategic goals, and these include transformation, particularly with regards to historically black townships that were marginalised from the economic mainstreams.

“It is also about creating employment for many and facilitating employment and empowerment pathways for all classes of disadvantaged citizens and those who are unemployed in our communities.”

Tau revealed that the province has identified ten high-growth priority sectors that would relieve and enable the growth of the Gauteng economy.

Among others, these include energy, transportation and logistics, ICT and digital premises, food beverages and agro-processing and agribusiness.

“We have been working on a number of initiatives to ensure that, in fact, we are ready to take full advantage of this. This includes the establishment of a provincial steering committee to ensure that there is coordination with various stakeholders, coordinating with national [government] and the Master Plan process as we work towards the process of implementation.”

Unlocking the hemp value chain

Cecil Mogase, project manager at the national department of agriculture, land reform and rural development, said four elements that could unlock the hemp value chain were identified.

First up would be production inputs, including breeding companies, seed companies, nurseries, and chemical companies. That will be followed by primary production, including smallholder, commercial and contract growers. With manufacturing and product development, cosmetics and body care products, food and animal feed, textiles, breeding material, paper and industrial products would be included.

Cannabis boom in Gauteng: Cecil Mogase, project manager at the department of agriculture, land reform and rural development. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi
Cecil Mogase, project manager at the department of agriculture, land reform and rural development. Photo: Supplied/Food For Mzansi

Mogase added that the proposed regulatory framework for hemp was based on four principles, including a permit system, public protection, intergovernmental relations and monitoring and enforcement.

“We have been working on a number of initiatives to ensure that in fact we are ready to take full advantage of this.

“This includes the establishment of a provincial steering committee to ensure that there is coordination with various stakeholders in our province. Coordinating with national and the master plan process as we work towards the process of implementation,” he said.

“On the permit system, all farmers and manufactures will need a permit to participate in the hemp industry, whereby one will need to apply for a permit either for primary production or manufacturing. On the protection of the general public, all hemp fields must be fenced off properly and be under lock and key at all times.

“In terms of monitoring and enforcement, all approved projects will be monitored by the department of agriculture, land reform and rural development, assisted by the department of health as well as the police.”

ALSO READ: Advance cannabis regulatory framework to boost agri in 2021

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