The National African Farmers Union of South Africa invited Fields of Green for ALL to introduce members to the issue of Cannabis and how legalisation will create opportunities. We traveled to Mokhondo Municipality (Piet Retief) in Southern Mpumalanga province. The local Chamber of Commerce and Industry, members of the National African Farmer’s Union and a local water NGO, Amanzibantu, also attended.
Like so many small towns in South Africa, Mokhondo / Piet Retief is battling to create opportunities for its residents and keep its tenuous status as an agricultural hub. The road inland from the main N4 highway, across vast tracts of open land, is littered with power stations and large scale forestry. There were whispers of corruption leaving the coffers empty. The need for employment and business development is dire.
It was an honour to present a glimmer of hope and share our vision for an inclusive Cannabis economy. Once again, our message of hope was tempered with caution and the need for the community to engage with the Department of Agriculture. Prohibition has eroded local knowledge of the plant and the main talking point of our presentation was a box of hemp products we brought with and the hemp clothes we were wearing!
The area covered by the municipality borders on Eswatini so prohibition propaganda associated with “criminals”, “drugs” and cross-border “trafficking” is rife. The economic benefits of legalising Ntsango seem like an “easy sell” but suspicion and stigma are still rife in our rural areas.
There is loads work to do – educating people about the truth about Cannabis – the laws and how they need to change, horticulture, agriculture, economics, business development, worker’s rights – the list goes on. It is our wish that the local Ntsangu will become a talking point and the beginnings of a positive mindset that moves away from the lies of prohibition towards the development of training programmes that will bring the legal Cananbis economy to the furthest corners of our beautiful country!