Polish, S. African Initiatives Join Forces on Hemp, Local Economies

Ap and Arné Verhoef, co-founders of The Stokvel Collective.Ap and Arné Verhoef, co-founders of The Stokvel Collective, on their farm near Pretoria

Nakło Foundation of Poland and the Stokvel Collective, South Africa, have entered into a cooperation agreement to jointly develop small-scale, localized farm-to-market processes and value chains based on organically farmed produce.

Under the agreement, Stokvel will help facilitate the Nakło Foundation’s development of micro farming and processing operations for industrial hemp and other organic crops, while the Foundation will help Stokvel develop advanced media assets as the two parties seek funding jointly, they said. Together, they will identify strategies to build resilient rural economies, empowered communities and sustainable agricultural models.

The Stokvel Collective brings together local co-ops and smallholders around Pretoria to form a localized or “distributed” economic model where crops grown are sold as close to their origins as possible. While the group cultivates supplies for local vegetable stands, it also produces and markets a range of natural “superfoods,” and next spring plans to expand its food line and branch out into natural skin and hair oils.

Nakło Foundation (publisher of HempToday), is active in local economic development through “To Grow A Village,” an initiative based in Silesia, south-central Poland which aims to revive local hemp growing as a means to saving small family farms.

“The social circumstances in Poland resonate strongly with the challenges faced by our rural farmers in South Africa,” said Stokvel’s Arné Verhoef, “Including how past injustices still affect the communities in the present day.”

“Our partnership with Stokvel is about sharing global knowledge to build sustainable local economies,” said Kehrt Reyher, Nakło Foundation’s Director of Development. The Foundation this year is planting a hemp test crop to study both cultivation and dual-cropping potential for the plant. “We want to absolutely maximize the returns to our farmers by taking up proven models for production and marketing of locally produced goods,” Reyher said.

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