Labat, a leading venture capital firm, has reportedly collaborated with CSIR to accelerate the processing of hemp along with the commercialization of medicinal cannabis at the CSIR facility in Coega.
Brian van Rooyen, Group Chief Executive at Labat, stated that the contract will solidify cooperation and partnership between Labat and CSIR across the value chain of hemp and cannabis production for the industries ranging from textiles to pharmaceuticals to energy.
Brian commented that CSIR’s focus is on commercializing medicinal cannabis and gaining some grip in the industrial side of hemp processing and production. He added that the partnership is collaborative and will benefit both the parties.
As per credible sources, the agreement makes provision for the upgrade, use, and growth of the CSIR’s Coega based hemp processing facility along with ramping up of hemp biomass and waste into energy use in KwaZulu-Natal.
It also provides for the beneficiation of biopolymers and bio composites which will be used in the textile, automotive, packaging, and construction industries.
Furthermore, Brian mentioned that they have various confirmed state-owned and private sector enterprises as clients amongst which, one of them is the biggest textile manufacturing firm in South Africa, which will use the material for their production rollouts.
According to reports, industrial hemp is currently worth $4.9 billion across the globe and is anticipated to surpass $18.6 billion by 2027. In addition, the South African hemp industry is estimated to be priced around USD 1.9 million in the five years’ time.
Apparently, van Rooney stated that at present there are no huge-scale industrial hemp-processing operations going in Africa.
Brian also claimed that manufacturers across the world do not own the financial means and technological capability to take the business to the required international level.
He added that South Africa’s hemp sector remains a cottage industry owing to social stigma, historical regulatory issues, and very less technological advancement.