WATCH: Bergville’s formalised dagga industry produces first harvest, next planting season in September

Mlotshwa, right, says they expect their first yield next month. Picture: Sihle Mavuso/IOL

Mlotshwa, right, says they expect their first yield next month. Picture: Sihle Mavuso/IOL

Published Mar 22, 2023


Bergville - The now formalised multi-million dagga industry of Bergville (Okhahlamba) in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands is now expected to produce its first yield in the first week of April.

According to the mayor of Okhahlamba (Bergville) local municipality, Vikizitha Mlotshwa, the first yield will come from one of their three chiefdoms – Simahla area under AmaSwazi chiefdom.

He said it was a pilot project that has proven to be a success and they would now roll it out in the other two remaining chiefdoms under the municipality.

Mlotshwa was speaking to the media on Wednesday in Bergville where his municipality was giving feedback regarding the project which was first initiated a few years ago when the planting and use of dagga for medical purposes was legalised.

The Bergville area is notoriously known for its dagga trade which until the Constitutional Court in 2018 decriminalised the use of weed for personal use, was an underground activity.

Mlotshwa said it was wrong notion to say dagga was only used for leisure smoking, saying even in ancient times, it was used for medical purposes by the black community.

“This is how it will go, since in April it will be our (first) harvest we will then start preparing the soil since it was a pilot where only small hectares were used to plant.

“From now it would be on a bigger scale. Our bigger scale farming would start in September this year.

“Here our large scale dagga farming will be in the chiefdoms of Emaswazini, eMangwaneni (the Hlongwas) and eMazizini.

“For now we had only planted at Emaswazini because we were still piloting the project to see how it goes and we have realised that our soil is suitable,’’ Mlotshwa said.

In November last year, Mlotshwa told IOL that they have been granted licences whereby local farmers would take their yield to Inkosi (Chief).

Video: Sihle Mavuso/IOL

Some of the dagga from the local farmers will be exported to overseas markets like the US.

He said according to what they have now, all three traditional leaders (amakhosi) under their jurisdiction have been granted a licence to collect dagga from people and send it to a factory located near the town of Winterton.

However, he stressed that it would not be a free-for-all, as licences would be issued after getting a police clearance.

On Wednesday Mlotshwa also announced that they have finally won the battle to exhume from Pretoria and rebury bodies of 22 men from the Hlongwane clan who were executed on March 21, 1957 after what they called the ganja/cannabis war.

The men were sentenced to death after a brief battle between the apartheid police who wanted to stop dagga farming and angry locals.

Mlotshwa said these men are heroes to the locals as they were the ones who started the long battle to have the dagga industry formalised since it was their livelihood.

The culmination of the reburial would happen on March 31 this year at the Bergville sports complex, just outside the town of Bergville.

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