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 So, up until 29/10/2021, it was illegal to grow “Hemp” in South Africa. After careful consideration, the “Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform & Rural Development, announced the opening of the application process for Hemp permits. So, this means that farmers are now able to apply for a permit and to farm hemp products as an agriculture crop.

There is a common misconception that Hemp and Marijuana are the same things. Although they fall under the same genus, Cannabis Hemp (Cannabis sativa L) is very much for industrial or agriculture use, whereas Marijuana (dagga as commonly known) can be used for medicinal and recreational purposes. The important differentiating factor between the two is that Hemp is far less THC (tetrahydrocannabinol).


Hemp – the innocent version of Cannabis sativa – is one of the oldest agricultural crops known to individuals and yet it is steeped in controversy, mostly due to modern ignorance. Hemp farming in South Africa is receiving renewed interest due to the crop’s versatility and increasing public appeal to the government to review its cannabis legislation.

It is a type of Cannabis used for its fibre, cannabinoids, and highly nutritious seed. It has a very low content of the cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and known to have psychoactive effects and cause a ‘high’ in those who ingest it. The levels of THC in hemp strains vary according to governments’ regulations worldwide and range from 0.2% up to 1%. So, the level of THC in a plant will determine whether it is ‘hemp’ or ‘marijuana’.


The Medicines Act allows South Africa Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) to issue a license to manufacture either a medicine such as CBD oil but a hemp growing permit is issued by the registrar of the Plant Improvement Act (PIA). So, application forms for hemp farming can be found on the DALRRD website (www.dalrrd.gov.za) and under the ‘Plant Production’ link.

Uses of hemp:

The product is a fibrous plant of which the stalks, leaves, seeds, and flowers are all utilized.

The hemp stalks contain short fibers (Hurd) and long bast fibers. Hurd pulp is used for paper, building material and as a fiberglass substitute. So, on the same size of land, hemp will yield four times more paper than trees. Longer hemp fibers are made into products and varied as rope, diapers, nets and fine fabrics. CBD oil is extracted from the vegetative parts.

Leaves are eaten fresh, used as animal bedding and mulch while hemp seeds are used as a super-food or for extracting hemp seed oil. The seeds contain 25% protein, 30% oil and 15% insoluble fibre. Hemp seed oil has a variety of uses including in paints, cosmetics, and foods. The resulting seed cake (after oil extraction) can be used as a protein-rich ingredient in animal feeds.

It also has significant environmental benefits which include bio sequestration of atmospheric CO₂ to biomass and remediation of contaminated soil. It absorbs and accumulates heavy metals like lead, nickel, and cadmium (phytoremediation).


You can start a Hemp farming operation as follows:

  • As a Cannabis farmer – growing and cultivating Hemp.
  • CBD or Hemp manufacturer – this could include CBD Oils and Hemp textiles.
  • CBD or Hemp product developer – creating products using the CBD oils and Hemp textiles.
  • Hemp or CBD product distributor – selling the CBD or Hemp products to consumers.

Once you’ve decided on the type of Hemp / Cannabis business you’ll like to start, its time to really get off the ground by:

1. You need to identify where there is a demand in the market.
2. Develop a marketing strategy and a strong brand who is vital for any business or farming operation, along with a strong business vision.

About Me

I am a small business consultant with 28 years banking and 23 years business experience. This also include 15 years experience working with farmers.

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