Question NW65 to the Minister of Economic Development

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23 February 2017 - NW65

Profile picture: Krumbock, Mr GR

Krumbock, Mr GR to ask the Minister of Economic Development

(1)Whether, with reference to his reply to question 1781 on 9 June 2015, an appropriate solution has been found for the reopening of the Sustainable Fibre Solutions kenaf fibre processing plant; if not, (a) why not and (b) are any appropriate solutions being considered; if so, what are the relevant details; (2) have there been any approaches from any person or entity to purchase the whole or part of the specified plant; if so, what are the details of each (a) approach and (b) outcome; (3) has the Industrial Development Corporation made any attempt to sell the whole or part of the specified plant; if not, why not; if so, what are the details of all attempts (a) made and/or (b) currently underway to sell the specified plant; (4) what are the relevant details of the (a) origins and (b) business plan of this project?


The CEO of the IDC has advised as follows:

An appropriate solution has not as yet been found for the re-opening of the Sustainable Fibre Solutions kenaf fibre processing plant. The IDC has, however, commissioned a study whose objective is to explore alternative uses for the kenaf fibre processing plant, the largest and most technologically advanced kenaf processing plant in the world.

Admittedly the study and the exercise to find alternative use for the kenaf processing plant is taking longer than anticipated but the preliminary study has been completed and results indicate that it could be used to process hemp. Hemp is used to make numerous consumer products, from hemp apparel and accessories to house-wares and hempseed oil cosmetics. Some of the products made from hemp are: clothing, shoes, diapers, rope, canvas, cellophane, paints, fuels, chain lubricants, biodegradable plastics, paper, fibreboard, cement blocks, food, cosmetics, and soap.

In terms of existing South African legislation, hemp is classified under the cannabis sativa plant species. Consequently a permit is required before one can plant hemp. Upon final confirmation that the plant can indeed be used to process hemp, the process of obtaining the necessary regulatory approvals from, inter alia, the Medicines Control Council, to plant hemp in South Africa on a commercial basis, will commence.

The IDC has been approached by an entity known as Industrial Hemp (Pty) Ltd who expressed a desire to acquire the kenaf processing plant. The IDC advised Industrial Hemp (Pty) Ltd that the kenaf processing plant is not for sale. This decision was informed by the fact that the IDC is still exploring alternative uses for the plant through the study it has commissioned. As a result, the IDC has not made an attempt to sell the whole or part of the specified kenaf processing plant to date. Industrial Hemp (Pty) Ltd was also advised that in the event of the kenaf processing plant being sold, a fair and transparent process that is in line with the provisions of the PFMA would be followed.

The project was started by the Industrial Development Corporation to initiate large-scale production of kenaf, a fibre crop used to make paper pulp, thermal and sound insulation, automotive parts and bio-composite, non-woven materials. The previous business plan proved not viable and as such we are in the process of scoping for a new proposal following the study recently completed into hemp.


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