Hemp
Field Crops in South Africa

© Marinda Louw
Hemp, the innocent member of the Cannabis family can grow up to 5 m tall.

Hemp is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant species that is grown specifically for its various uses. Hemp can be used as food (high protein hemp flour and hemp oil), as fibres for clothing and industrial textiles, in animal feed, for medicinal uses such as CBD-oil and part of industrial applications including building materials and paints.

Cannabis sativa is classified as ‘hemp’ when it has low levels of the psychoactive cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Permissible levels of THC may vary from 0.1% to 0.3% according to legislation in different countries. Hemp, therefore, does not induce a ‘high’ when ingested.  

The trade of hemp in South Africa is controlled by the Medicines Act in South Africa, which has impacted the cultivation of hemp as a viable resource that could substantially grow South Africa’s economy, and in turn, provide sustainable jobs combatting the employment rate in SA.

However, possibly due to misinformation, hemp is still classified as a schedule 7 ‘controlled substance’ product, similar to heavy drugs like Mandrax and heroin. Permits for the growing of hemp in South Africa for ‘research purposes’ can be obtained from the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) and is valid for 12 months.

This series of articles on hemp is being translated into all 11 official South African languages to inform readers on the versatility of the hemp plant and its uses.

By Marinda Louw

Growing Hemp

Hemp grows best in well-drained loam soil with a pH of between 6 and 7.5 with abundant organic matter - at least 3.5 %. Dense, poorly-drained clay soil is not suitable and sandy soil’s need for extra irrigation and fertilising may be uneconomical. ...more

Hemp as a Fibre for Textiles

Hemp (Cannabis sativa) is a type of cannabis with low levels of the euphoric THC cannabinoid and does not cause the ‘high’ associated with its cousin, the psychoactive ‘dagga’ (marijuana)....more

Hemp as Animal Feed

The study suggests that the value of hemp as animal feed for livestock lies in the nutritional content of hemp seeds, especially when leaf production is limited....more

Hemp as Building Material

A Cape Town architectural firm has been using hemp as a building material since 2008. Some of the main reasons for using hemp are the reduction of the carbon footprint of the building process, hemp’s superior insulation properties and its ease to build wi...more

Hemp as Food

The increasing demand for plant-based, high-protein foods and healthy oils has created renewed interest in the nutritional value of hemp-related food products....more

Hemp Oil

Hemp oil can be extracted from various parts of the hemp plant and has culinary, beauty, medicinal and industrial applications....more

Hemp Production

In hemp production fibres are used for strong durable textiles, building materials and paper. Hemp seeds contain high levels of antioxidants, fatty acids, minerals, and vitamins while the plant itself helps to stabilise soils....more

Hemp Species

Specific strains of industrial hemp are used for the production-specific end-products; hemp seed, fibre and dual-purpose which produces both fibre and seed. Hemp dual-purpose strains do not produce as much as or of the same quality of single-purpose hemp...more

History of Hemp

Hemp has been cultivated for thousands of years; the first evidence of the use of hemp was found on Taiwanese pottery dating back to 10 000 B.C....more

Industrial Uses for Hemp

Apart from hemp oil used in many industrial applications such as drying agent in paints, as a varnish and lubricant, the hemp plant (Cannabis sativa) can be used as paper, to extract toxins from the soil and as a fuel source....more

Is Hemp a Drug?

Hemp (Cannabis sativa) is a versatile plant used for textiles, fibre, oil and as a food and is often mistaken for a drug because of its relation to its intoxicating cousin: marijuana or ‘dagga’ (Cannabis indica)....more

What is Hemp Used For?

The nutritious hemp oil is used in foods, skincare and cosmetics, and CBD-containing hemp oil has many medicinal applications. Hemp is also planted to extract toxins from the soil, as part of crop rotation systems to improve soil health and to manufacture...more