The South African hemp story : saviour crop or business as usual

Coogan, Camila Joan (2016-03)

Thesis (MPhil)--Stellenbosch University, 2016.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT:This study, presented in the form of two journal articles, seeks to understand the barriers to initiating a viable, inclusive and sustainable hemp industry in South Africa. Production of the crop has been prohibited in the country since the early 1900s, although state-supported research trials into its agronomic and commercial feasibility in South Africa have been ongoing since the 1990s. The increased global interest in hemp is fuelled by the need to find sustainable replacements for high-carbon materials such as fibres, paper, plastics, and so on. In addition, hemp offers nutritional and medicinal benefits. While many countries, such as Canada, began removing restrictions on hemp production and researching the beneficial uses of the crop at the same time as South Africa began trials, this country is still to realise any benefits from both public and private-sector investment in research. This study aims to unearth the barriers – both obvious and more hidden – in an effort to contribute to overcoming them and realising a viable hemp industry in South Africa. Using a qualitative research approach, within a grounded theory framework, the study employed a literature review of both academic and grey literature (research reports, news articles, etc.) and conducted semi-structured interviews with 16 key stakeholders. During this process, small findings emerged, which allowed a theory to begin to develop as to the obstacles facing the industry. There is little academic literature to draw on about establishing a hemp industry in the developing world; the study therefore draws from research on infant industries, innovation and the role of subsidies to frame the discussion. The first journal article (An analysis of the historical determinants shaping the future of the South African hemp industry) explores the visible barriers of legislation, which in turn revealed the second barrier. This is the desire for hemp production to contribute towards solving South Africa’s socioeconomic challenges as a ‘saviour crop’. The third visible barrier is the lack of clarity about whether hemp production would be commercially feasible in South Africa, and, if so, what kind of production model would be best. The primary finding in the first journal article is that perhaps the lack of a clearly articulated vision from government for the industry in terms of its desired socioeconomic contribution and commercial feasibility is the biggest stumbling block. The second journal article (An exploration of the competing narratives within South Africa’s hemp industry) highlights the ‘invisible’ barriers, including the differing expectations and vision for the industry, the existing silo mentality within stakeholders, dispersed and misdirected funding streams, absence of a public champion, and industry fatigue. Both articles use illustrative examples from other countries to highlight elements that could be of use in South Africa, emphasising the importance of an institutionalised home for hemp in the country, state support, communication between stakeholders, and an applicable licensing model. It is hoped that the study provides an accurate reflection of the industry and opens up discussions about alternative ways forward over, around or through the identified barriers.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: te probeer verstaan wat die vestiging van ’n lewensvatbare, inklusiewe en volhoubare hennepbedryf in Suid-Afrika verhinder. Hoewel die verbouing van dié gewas sedert die vroeë 1990’s verbied word, word staatsondersteunde navorsingsproewe oor die agronomiese en kommersiële haalbaarheid daarvan in Suid-Afrika sedertdien op ’n deurlopende grondslag uitgevoer. Die toenemende internasionale belangstelling in hennep word aangevuur deur die behoefte aan volhoubare plaasvervangers vir koolstofryke materiale soos vesel, papier, plastiek, ensovoorts. Daarbenewens hou hennep bepaalde voedings- en medisinale voordele in. Hoewel baie lande, waaronder Kanada, die verbod op hennepverbouing begin ophef en die voordelige gebruike van die gewas begin ondersoek het juis toe Suid-Afrika se proewe ’n aanvang geneem het, het openbare en privaatsektorbelegging in navorsing in Suid-Afrika nog geen vrugte afgewerp nie. Hierdie studie probeer die ooglopende sowel as meer verborge hindernisse bepaal ten einde dit te bowe te help kom en ’n lewensvatbare hennepbedryf in Suid-Afrika te help vestig. Aan die hand van ’n kwalitatiewe navorsingsbenadering en ’n grondige teoretiese raamwerk is ’n literatuuroorsig van akademiese sowel as grys literatuur (navorsingsverslae, nuusberigte, ensovoorts) onderneem, en is semigestruktureerde onderhoude met 16 sleutelbelanghebbendes gevoer. Algaande het klein bevindinge na vore gekom op grond waarvan ’n teorie oor die struikelblokke vir die bedryf ontwikkel kon word. Daar is weinig akademiese literatuur om te raadpleeg oor die vestiging van ’n hennepbedryf in die ontwikkelende wêreld. Daarom put die studie uit navorsing oor jong bedrywe, innovasie en die rol van subsidies om die bespreking te rig. Die eerste vaktydskrifartikel (“An analysis of the historical determinants shaping the future of the South African hemp industry”) verken die sigbare hindernis van wetgewing, wat op sy beurt die tweede hindernis na vore gebring het, naamlik die wens dat hennepverbouing as ’n soort ‘reddergewas’ tot ’n oplossing vir die sosioekonomiese uitdagings van Suid-Afrika sal bydra. Die derde sigbare hindernis is die gebrek aan duidelikheid oor of hennepverbouing kommersieel haalbaar sal wees in Suid-Afrika en, indien wel, watter soort produksiemodel die beste sal wees. Die hoofbevinding in die eerste artikel is dat die gebrek aan ’n duidelik verwoorde regeringsvisie wat betref die gewenste sosioekonomiese bydrae en kommersiële lewensvatbaarheid van die bedryf die grootste struikelblok is. Die tweede vaktydskrifartikel (“An exploration of the competing narratives within South Africa’s hemp industry”) beklemtoon die ‘onsigbare’ hindernisse, waaronder die verskillende verwagtinge van én visie vir die bedryf, die bestaande ‘silo-mentaliteit’ onder belanghebbendes, karige en wanaangewende finansieringstrome, die gebrek aan ’n openbare kampvegter, en bedryfsafmatting. Stellenbosch University https://scholar.sun.ac.za v Albei artikels gebruik voorbeelde uit ander lande om elemente uit te lig wat in Suid-Afrika van nut kan wees, met die klem op die belang van ’n geïnstitusionaliseerde tuiste vir hennep in die land, staatsondersteuning, kommunikasie tussen belanghebbendes, en ’n gepaste lisensiëringsmodel. Die hoop is dat die studie ’n akkurate weerspieëling van die bedryf bied en tot gesprekke sal lei oor alternatiewe toekomstige handelswyses om óór, óm of déúr die betrokke hindernisse te kom.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/98872
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