The Municipality explained that the first phase of the project began at a farm located in the AmaSwazi community in Bergville.
According to the Okhahlamba Municipality’s Communications Unit, the primary purpose of this pilot project is to establish the Okhahlamba (Bergville) area as the centre of Insangu (cannabis) cultivation, processing and manufacturing in South Africa. This will be done in a manner that provides medical security and facilitates socioeconomic development locally.
“Overall, the project is expected to create approximately 150 jobs at the peak of the project. It’s a multi-party stakeholder project that includes the municipality, the three traditional authorities in the municipality, the Department of Agriculture, Druids Garden, African Cultural Heritage Trust, and other provincial entities,” explained the Municipality.
The undertaking is a community-based project driven by the municipality. Hectare Capital & Partners are responsible for the project management, implementation and fundraising of the project.
The project manager Clive Smith explained that the first 500 cannabis plants were planted on Tuesday, 24 January 2023.
He further elaborated that eight employees will be working on the site, with a further 14 employees working at the nursery located in Bergville town.
“The 14 employees were provided by the Municipality through the EPWP (Expanded Public Works Programme) and 12 of the employees are women and two are men, as we are promoting female empowerment,” he added.
With the first 500 cannabis plants planted, Smith explained that a further 800 cannabis plants will be planted on Tuesday, 31 January 2023, with an additional 800 cannabis plants to be planted during the first week of February 2023.
The harvesting of the plants has been earmarked for the second week of April 2023. However, Smith emphasised that this did not mean that the Bergville community’s involvement would end there.
“The idea is to do the functional process, the extraction process of CBD and the manufacturing of CBD products in Bergville.”
With this in mind, Smith highlighted that the entire sector would focus on the medicinal uses of cannabis. Security guards are also being employed to protect the property and the two other areas.
In addition, the cannabis plants will be Europa Strains, with 3100 plants cloned and being prepared to be planted.
The project comes after the Deputy Minister for Trade, Industry and Competition, Nomalungelo Gina spoke at the Agriculture and Land Summit in Bergville on 30 November 2022, where she emphasised that the rural economy, agriculture and agro-processing were at the heart of driving the countryside economy.
“Although Bergville has fertile land for various crops, it has a unique climate that is favourable to the growing of cannabis. We are here to nudge you as people of Bergville to focus more in particular on the growing of cannabis, and the agro-processing of cannabis for markets both domestic and abroad,” stated Gina at the time.
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As the cannabis sector officially kicks off in Bergville, seeing Northern KwaZulu-Natal establish itself within the industry, it should be noted that Government estimates that the cultivation and commercialisation of cannabis production in South Africa can generate an estimated R28 billion and could create between 10 000 to 25 000 jobs across the sector in the future.
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