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Cannabis cultivation in Lesotho: "There is great weather here for growing cannabis"

Even before the global pandemic hit us all, the cannabis industry had already been eyed by several countries as a path towards economic recovery. This sentiment has become even greater when Coronavirus forced many businesses to shut down, while cannabis was deemed as essential and allowed to continue to operate. The growing demand that characterized the past months has been yet another proof that cannabis can be healing also for the economy. That is also among the reasons why a number of African countries have opened to the cannabis industries. One of the most interesting, surely, is Lesotho.

Cannabis cultivation in Lesotho
“Lesotho has a very rich cannabis history,” says Jimmy Hebb, International cultivation consultant to MGMC Pharma Group. “It was used as a treatment throughout history. And on top of that, there are some genetics that have developed in the mountains here. So, it was only a matter of time that Lesotho fully embraced this tradition again.” Tying in with the country’s tradition, however, is only one of the reasons as to why MGMC has decided to set up its cultivation operation in Lesotho. “There is great weather here for growing cannabis,” Jimmy remarks. “There’s no pollution, and we can grow year-round thanks to the highly favorable climate: we get a lot of sunshine, and low humidity; this allows us to speed up the growing of our plants.”

But other than the mere technical aspects, there are others that make Lesotho very much suitable for cannabis cultivation. “Operational costs here are way cheaper than in the US or Canada, for instance,” Jimmy points out. “Electricity is much cheaper, as well as labor.” Yet, this is not the story of another Western exploitation of an African country, because MGMC’s mission is also to improve the quality of life of the community around them. “Agriculture is two to four times more effective for poverty reduction than any other sector, according to the World Bank,” Jimmy explains. “On top of that, we train local people so that they can become expert growers. Over my life, one of my main jobs has always been to train people on how to grow cannabis, on how to read the plant in order to understand its needs. By teaching people large-scale cultivation skills, they can then share this knowledge with other local groups, and use it to help communities to more effectively grow crops in regions which often struggle with food security.”

Perfect climate conditions
MGMC grows its cannabis outdoors, capitalizing on Lesotho’s climate conditions. “Our team in Maseru, led by CEO Gustav (Trichardt)  and Head Grower Godfrey (Scheepers), develop young plants in a greenhouse,” Jimmy continues to explain. “Then, they are transported to the netted outdoor growth area. Here, they benefit from the natural high quality of Lesotho’s air, free from the pollutants of more industrialized areas, as well as its abundance of sunshine. Upon reaching maturity, the plants transition from their vegetative state to their flowering state. The quality of their care ensures the development of an abundance of the highest quality cannabinoids. Lesotho’s historic link to cannabis means the expertise required to produce this quality are in strong supply.”

Another major concern often brought up against cannabis growth is that the significant water requirements of the plant uses up a valuable resource and a great deal of energy. “No such a problem faces our facilities,” Jimmy points out. “All water is sourced from previously untapped boreholes. This has a two-pronged benefit: firstly, we do not deplete any of the valuable water sources that many rely on for sustenance; secondly, this ground water is clean and purified, thus not requiring any purification and the energy cost that comes along with that. Bluntly put, our crops receive the highest quality of water at a negligible cost to both the local people and the environment.”

But one of the most unique things of MGMC is the genetics they are growing. “African landrace cannabis cultivars can trace their origins back to more than 3000 years,” Jimmy says. “The cultivar that we grow descends directly from the original native African landrace, found throughout the regions where we operate. The development of such a genetic facilitates MGMC’s continued provision of the highest quality medical cannabis products as well as putting the region on the global cannabis industry map. All we do contributes to developing Africa as the world’s next cannabis titan.”

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