By Tichaona Kurewa
International buyers have endorsed Zimbabwe’s industrial hemp in a move expected to expand the country’s export basket and earnings this year.
Africa Cannabis Advisory Group reported that the continent’s Cannabis Market is expected to hit $7.1 Billion United Stated Dollars by 2023, with over 15 tonnes of legal cannabis having been exported to the rest of the world in 2021, a tenfold increase from 2020.
Zimbabwe alone last year exported about three tonnes of industrial hemp to Europe although most farmers are in a commercial trial phase.
“Most farmers are still on commercial trials phase and one company managed to export three tonnes of the hemp flour to Switzerland and it was a commercial trial again for quality assessment, from what I am hearing quality from Zimbabwe was highly recommended and we are hoping that things continue to improve from there on,” said Zimbabwe Industrial Hemp Trust, Chief Executive officer and Founder Dr Zorodzai Maroveke
With a positive industrial hemp global outlook; production is expected to expand this year.
“By the end of this year it will be great if we have over 500 hectares nationwide under hemp production, it will be a good start because we have had disturbances with COVID-19. What we need to understand about the industrial hemp is that the potential is huge, we have existing industries like cotton and tobacco, as you may be aware tobacco is under threat and industrial hemp is so we have to look at alternative crops and I think industrial hemp really fits into most of the strategies and the SDGs for both domestic and global vision,” he added.
In 2020 Government began licensing farmers for cannabis thereby allowing research and development of the crop and to date over 20 producers have been licensed under the Agriculture Marketing Authority (AMA).
Industrial hemp is used as a raw material in the manufacturing of pharmaceutical drugs, textiles, edible oils and livestock feed among others.