Cannabis cultivation gains momentum in Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe recently scrapped rules requiring sole state ownership for cannabis farming to encourage investment in the plant for industrial and medicinal uses. Zimbabwe is Africa's largest tobacco producer, but authorities expect hemp export earnings to start replacing tobacco as farmers seek higher earnings from the crop.

Farmer Jesper Kirk has been growing mainly tobacco since he moved to a 250-hectare farm five years ago. He now plans to increase his hectarage of hemp, a type of cannabis plant that has very low levels of THC — the intoxicating substance in marijuana — when the growing season begins in a few months.

"I went for hemp because it is an export crop,” he said. “Much more reliable market. Whereas, for example potatoes, local market crop is a slightly more unstable market in terms of the number of people growing it. So, I wanted a more stable market in terms of demand."

About five years ago, Zimbabwe Industrial Hemp Trust led experiments raising cannabis and the project has spread to several parts of Zimbabwe.

The trust is providing technical assistance and looking for markets for farmers, said the group’s head, Dr. Zorodzai Maroveke.


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