By Kondwani Munthali and Feston Malekezo:
Development of chamba (Industrial Hemp) regulations that will enable Malawi to formally join the growing nations is set to start this December as it awaits Cabinet approval, the Malawi Investment and Trade Centre (MITC) has disclosed.
MITC Director of Investment Promotion, Joshua Nthankomwa, told Malawi UK Business Group reception in London, that cabinet is yet to approve the regulations.
“The Special Crops Act is already in place, what we need now are regulations to govern the growing with Industrial Hemp licensing to start as soon as Government gives necessary approvals to regulations,” said Nthakhomwa.
The marijuana market is very lucrative compared to tobacco, which has been Malawi’s main forex earner for decades.
According to the Grand View Research, the global legal marijuana market size was valued at $9.3 billion in 2016, and this figure likely to go up $146.4 billion by end of 2025 when more countries decide to legalise the product.
Nthakomwa said, controls will extend to include local processing of the plants as no raw hemp or cannabis will be exported to ensure that Malawi gains maximum benefits from the growing of the crop.
“We have registered huge interests from companies in Canada, Israel and many other places. We look forward to many more investors coming, not only in this sector, but many other sectors that Government has created environment for one to grow their business,” he said.
InveGrow, a private company has been conducting trials on Industrial Hemp at Chitedze Research Station and the results were submitted pending further approval and proper framework for licenses to be issued.
“There will be controls on who and how can one grow Industrial Hemp, basically through green houses,” said Nthakomwa, who presented the two as existing investment opportunities in Malawi.
Internet search indicates an acre with 25000 plants can fetch up to US$60,000 in the USA in states where hemp has been legalised, indicating massive potential for a high yield crop that would surpass most of current commercial crops and minerals.
Two weeks ago, Vice President Saulos Chilima became the first high ranking politician to openly discuss monetising industrial hemp in Malawi.