How to get a licence to grow dagga for the export market

Business Insider SA
 Dagga plants growing in a tunnel. Photo: Landbouw
Dagga plants growing in a tunnel. Photo: Landbouweekblad.
  • This month, four SA companies have obtained licences to export medical dagga.
  • The cost of setting up a facility and getting a licence is estimated at between R3 million and R5 million.
  • The drip-irrigation system alone could set you back up to R2 million.
  • For more articles, go to Business Insider SA.

Earlier this month, four South African companies obtained licences to supply medicinal dagga to the export market

The producers are involved in the cultivation, drying and packaging of dagga, as well as extracting cannabis oil.

The estimated cost of a setting up a facility and preparing an application will cost you R3 million to R5 million, according to a report by Landbouweekblad.

Before you apply, you should have a contract in place with an overseas buyer of the product.

Preparing your application 

If you want to export dagga for medicine purposes, you have to submit an application with the Medicine Control Council of SA (MCC).

The MCC will inspect the plans for your facility, including your security measures and the positioning of your tunnels, says Nico Kriek, managing director at the Cannabis Compliance Bureau. His organisation helps SA cultivators, manufacturers, processing and distributors to become fully compliant and ready for a medical cannabis licences. 

Read: 5 things you need to know about growing dagga at home

Apart from getting the physical structure of your facility approved, you also need to submit a quality-control procedure, which have to include:

- Recruitment forms for job applications

- Document management system

- Legal compliance system

- Details on how the dagga is being cultivated

- Manufacturing standards

- Systems for handling the dagga 

How much can you grow?

There is no limit currently on how much dagga you can grow, according to Landbouweekblad.

As part of the application process, you will be allotted a permitted quantity - determined by the contract you have in place with a foreigner buyer, and the size of your facility.

Read: The South African dagga industry could be worth R27 billion within four years – but export-quality cannabis may be a problem

Irrigation system                                                          

For dagga, a drip-based irrigation system works best, irrigation expert Charles Cherry told Landbouweekblad.

His company, Cherry Irrigation, uses the same system for dagga than for blue berries.

An irrigation system for 4 hectare to 5 hectare of dagga will cost from R1.5 million to R2 million.

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