A recent change in Zimbabwe’s cannabis cultivation regulations required the state to hold all of the lands to stimulate investment in the plant for industrial and therapeutic purposes.
Zimbabwe is Africa’s largest tobacco producer. Still, authorities expect hemp export earnings to begin to supplant tobacco as farmers seek higher returns from the crop as demand for the crop increases. Hemp is a form of the cannabis plant containing low levels of THC, a psychoactive component of the plant.
Since relocating to a 250-hectare farm five years ago, farmer Jesper Kirk has focused chiefly on tobacco production. However, when the growing season begins in a few months, he hopes to increase the amount of hemp he grows.
“I went for hemp because it is an export crop,” Kirk explained. “So, I wanted a slightly stable market.”
Kirk also stated that cannabis is a much more dependable market. Local market crops such as potatoes, for example, have a more volatile market due to the limited number of people that farm them in the area.
Zimbabwe Trust Group Tests Cannabis Farming
The Zimbabwe Industrial Hemp Trust began conducting cannabis cultivation tests about five years ago. The project has since expanded to other regions of the country.
According to Executive Director Dr. Zorodzai Maroveke, the trust provides technical help to farmers and searches for markets for them. She believes Zimbabwe is making a wise decision in legalizing cannabis, given that the tobacco business is dwindling as a result of anti-smoking programs.
“It’s most relevant…considering the threat that the (tobacco) industry faces,” Maroveke explained. “Our [current] economy has to start looking for alternatives.”
Maroveke also stated that Zimbabwe is heavily reliant on tobacco production.
Hemp is considered to be at the top of Zimbabwean farmers’ lists. When compared to tobacco, it is a more environmentally friendly crop with a significant social benefit.
“I think in ten years, you will see the value chains that will come out of this sector are way more than tobacco,” said Maroveke
Hemp Output May Skyrocket
While Kirk is considering exporting his crop, Walter Ruprecht has been using hemp grown by farmers this year to make paper, which he hopes to expand. In his opinion, cannabis holds a great deal of promise for Zimbabwe, both in industrial and even therapeutic applications.
According to Ruprecht, hemp’s benefits include the fact that it will undoubtedly result in thousands of jobs in farming areas, similar to what tobacco has done for decades. He explained that hemp has “many advantages for its medicinal interests.”
Textiles, pulp, and paper are examples of composite materials that can be used. Still, there are a variety of other options available. Additionally, it is also a nitrogen fertilizer for the soil and it kills weeds.
The farmer also stated that hemp provides numerous benefits to small farmers. First, and more importantly, to value chains, creating opportunities worth hundreds of thousands of dollars for each farmer who participates.
Global Sectors Expect Zimbabwean Output To Rise
The global cannabis sector is predicted to be worth $46 billion in three years, up from $16.47 billion this year, according to Tino Kambasha of the Zimbabwe Investment Development Agency. The industry is currently worth $16.47 billion.
Hemp production is a “market that is growing fast, and we think it’s going to be a game-changer for this country,” says Kambasha. He also believes that it would have game-changing implications for Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe has also taken a small step further to demonstrate that it is eager to collaborate with its partners and investors. This is accomplished by creating an investment agreement, which provides additional protection against things like expropriation, alteration, and changes in the legislation, which are highly beneficial.
According to Kambasha, Zimbabwe has attracted investors from the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Switzerland, and other nations due to the new cannabis rules.
The attention might be a much-needed shot in the arm for Zimbabwe’s economy, which has been trapped in a furrow for more than two decades.