Exploring hemp farming as a sustainable agriculture in South Africa, using a social-ecological systems approach

Rightford, Brett Warwick Bevan (2020-03)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2020.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Smallholder communities in the rural regions of South Africa are becoming increasingly vulnerable to challenges associated with climate change and socio-economic conditions. This study includes an exploration of hemp (Cannabis Sativa. L) agriculture in South Africa, and seeks to evaluate the sustainability of such agriculture, as well as the opportunities for agricultural and socio-economic development possible, through employing smallholder hemp agriculture in South Africa. The concepts relating to hemp cultivation, sustainable agriculture, and smallholder farming in South Africa, were unpacked, and framed using a social- ecological systems framework. A social-ecological systems approach provides a holistic perspective for understanding the social and ecological factors responsible for driving the establishing of the hemp industry in South Africa,as well as the potential impacts. To gain a South African perspective of hemp agriculture and the industry I conducted in-depth interviews with six participants, that were carefully selected based on their personal experience in hemp cultivation. A non-participant case study was also used in this study to explore a hemp research trial farm, where soil samples were taken to test for levels of minerals present in the soil. This was then analysed to determine the level of influence the hemp taproot has on the nutrient cycle of the soil. Results from this study indicated that the ecological benefits of cultivating hemp included the absence of pesticide use, and moderate fertiliser requirements, as well as the aeration and microorganism regeneration characteristics associated with the hemp taproot. The agglomeration of end-uses and industries available through hemp production meets the socio-economic contexts experienced by rural communities in South Africa, due to the economic multiplier effect of establishing a hemp industry. Observations at the research trial farm in Riebeek-Kasteel, suggested that hemp does not naturally increase the nitrogen levels in the soil, as studies have suggested, however, methods for enhancing the nutrient flow of soils through hemp cultivation are identified. Smallholder hemp agriculture in South Africa can be viable given the correct conditions, such as climate, access to resources, and guidance. Furthermore, it is highly suggested that smallholder farmers rotate the hemp crop with a nitrogen fixing, winter food-crop, to avoid depletion of soil nutrients, and to meet social drivers such as food and nutrition insecurity. With the changing of laws surrounding the agriculture of industrial hemp in South Africa and other countries throughout the world, industries such as bio- plastic, biofuel, hemp-based building materials, medicinal cannabis, and the nutrition industry, will begin to drive the development of such agriculture. This study emphasizes the importance of smallholder inclusion in the infant industry, to develop a powerful mechanism for social and agricultural development in the rural regions of South Africa.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Kleinboergemeenskappe in Suid-Afrika se landelike gebiede word toenemend trefbaar vir uitdagings wat met klimaatsverandering en sosio-ekonomiese omstandighede verband hou. Hierdie studie ondersoek die hennep- (Cannabis Sativa. L) landboubedryf in Suid-Afrika, en beoog om die volhoubaarheid van sodanige landbou te evalueer, asook die geleenthede vir moontlike landbou- en sosio-ekonomiese ontwikkeling, deur hennep-landbou met behulp van kleinboerdery in Suid-Afrika aan te wend. Ons voorsien ʼn uiteensetting van die konsepte wat met hennepverbouing, volhoubare landbou en kleinboerdery in Suid-Afrika verband hou, en bou die konsepte deur middel van ʼn sosiaal-ekologiese stelsels-raamwerk. ʼn Sosiaal- ekologiese stelsels-benadering voorsien ʼn holistiese oogpunt om die sosiale en ekologiese faktore te verstaan wat vir die aandrywing en daarstelling van die hennep-industrie in Suid-Afrika verantwoordelik is, asook die moontlike gevolge daarvan. Om ʼn Suid-Afrikaanse perspektief van hennep-landbou en die industrie te behaal, het ons diepgaande onderhoude met ses deelnemers gevoer, noukeurig gekies as gevolg van hul persoonlike ondervinding met hennepverbouing. ʼn Nie-deelnemende gevallestudie is ook in hierdie studie gebruik om ʼn proefplaas vir hennepnavorsing te ondersoek, waar grondmonsters geneem is om die teenwoordige mineraalvlakke in die grond te toets. Dit is daarna geanaliseer om die invloedsvlak van die hennep-penwortel op die grond se voedingstofsiklus te bepaal. Resultate van hierdie studie het aangedui dat die ekologiese voordele van hennepverbouing die afwesigheid van plaagdoder en matige vereistes vir messtof ingesluit het, asook die hennep-penwortel se eienskappe wat verband hou met deurlugting en die vernuwing van mikro-organismes. Die versameling eind-gebruike en industrieë beskikbaar as gevolg van hennepvervaardiging voldoen aan die sosio-ekonomiese aandrywers wat deur landelike gemeenskappe in Suid-Afrika ervaar word as gevolg van die ekonomiese vermenigvuldigingseff ek met die daarstelling van ʼn hennep-industrie. Soos studies aangedui het, dui observasies by die navorsingsproefplaas in Riebeek-Kasteel daarop dat hennep nie die stikstofvlakke in die grond natuurlik verhoog nie, tog is metodes om grond se voedingstofvloei deur hennepverbouing te verhoog, geïdentifiseer. Hennep- landbou met behulp van kleinboerdery in Suid-Afrika kan onder die regte omstandigehede lewensvatbaar wees, soos byvoorbeeld klimaat, toegang tot hulpbronne en leiding. Daarenbowe word dit hoogs aanbeveel dat kleinboere die hennepgewas met ʼn stikstof-vasstellende, winter voedselgewas roteer om te verhoed dat grondvoedingstowwe uitgeput word, en om aan sosiale aandrywers soos voedsel en voeding insekuriteit te voldoen. As gevolg van die veranderig van wetgewing rondom industriële hennep- landbou in Suid-Afrika en ander lande in die wêreld, sal industrieë soos bioplastiek, hennep-gebaseerde boumateriaal, medisinale cannabis en die voedingsindustrie die ontwikkeling van sodangie landbou aandryf. Hierdie studie betoog dat dit belangrik is om die kleinboer in hierdie nuwe industrie by te reken, om ʼn kragtige meganisme vir sosiale en landbou-ontwikkeling in die landelike gebiede van Suid-Afrika te ontwikkel.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/108267
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