Half an hour into a State of the Nation address punctuated by familiar measures to combat a gloomy economic situation, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa flashed a wicked smile at his Cape Town audience. Miming the actions of a smoker, imaginary joint raised to his lips, he humorously confided his latest plan to kickstart sluggish growth.
“We will review the policy and regulatory framework for industrial hemp and cannabis – which will come as sweet news for our people in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal – to realise huge potential for investment and job creation. Now this natural product, which our people have been farming with and harvesting for a number of purposes, is going to be industrialised – and no longer just restricted to the smoke process!” he quipped.
Despite the jocular tone, which prompted audience laughter and a smattering of applause, it was clear that the president sees the industry as a very serious proposition. The legal hemp and cannabis sector, he told the nation, has the potential to create more than 130,000 new jobs in South Africa. To further his point, he highlighted Lesotho – the small independent kingdom locked within South Africa’s landmass – as a shining example of a country already grasping the enormous opportunities of cannabis cultivation.
“Our immediate neighbour in Lesotho has moved ahead in industrialisation of cannabis in leaps and bounds, and products that can be eked out of hemp and cannabis are in great demand around the world. We want to harness this so we can unleash the energy of our ordinary farmers in the various parts of our country,” Ramaphosa said.
Source: David Thomas | African.business