By Vumani Mkhize / BBC

For generations, people in South Africa's Eastern Cape have made their living growing cannabis. You might expect that as the country moves to legalise the crop, they would be first in line to benefit, but that is not necessarily the case.

The drive from Umthatha to the Dikidikini village in South Africa's Eastern Cape province is a picturesque journey filled with endless vistas, scattered homesteads and winding roads which scythe through undulating green hills that could easily be mistaken for corn fields - yet they are anything but.

"That's cannabis," my local guide and cannabis activist Greek Zueni tells me. "Everyone here grows it, that's how they make a living."

Cannabis, colloquially referred to as "umthunzi wez'nkukhu," or, chicken shade, is an intrinsic part of many rural communities in Eastern Cape's Pondoland and a vital source of income.

At a homestead near the riverbank, we meet a group of men, women and children tending to a fresh harvest. Their hands are stained green from plucking the cannabis heads all day.

The pungent smell of cannabis hangs heavy in the air. They crack jokes while they work - harvesting is a group effort. A massive heap of green heads lies besides them, drying in the midday sun.

For community member Nontobeko, which is not her real name, farming cannabis is all she has ever known: "I learnt how to grow it as an eight-year-old girl," she says proudly.

"Cannabis is very important to us because it's our livelihood and source of income. Everything we get, we get it through selling cannabis. There are no jobs, our children are just sitting here with us."