Hemp is a multi-beneficial crop, and a strong step to create productive, healthy and even prosperous conditions in Africa
The Dangerous Drugs Act* does not distinguish between marijuana ( ‘Indian hemp’ or chamba) and industrial hemp. Thus terminology proves to be a major challenge as was the case in many countries.
However, the Act does in fact indicate that products from cannabis could be produced under a licence, such as with morphine, and could be imported for consumers e.g food. The challenge is that Malawi has never before granted a licence for production despite it featuring in the Act, and there are other Acts that prohibit cultivation for raw materials to make hemp products. These are all currently being considered and reviewed holistically by the government partly due to Invegrow’s investment application, and active Members of Parliament and forums like KEMET FORUM.
Since many other countries worldwide have amended their definitions, including the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada, there are many examples to draw from. This legislative procedure will take time but in the meantime trials will be conducted to test THC levels, cultivars and markets. Invegrow will proudly sponsor this development and lead the lobbying process with its local and international partners.
Trials are starting in 2015 with licences from the Ministry of Agriculture and Health.
Our project sits with the highest office in the country, the Office of the President & Cabinet, and regular reports will be made to the committee throughout the trials.
The objective is to obtain three sets of results under different conditions, rain-fed and irrigation, and test cultivars. Upon successful results, commercial viability will have to be shown by cultivating a larger area in 2016, scaling up to around 1,000ha in five years. This is small in the agricultural world but will offer some valuable insights into the behavior and yields of hemp on a larger scale.
The Agricultural Research Council has been running trials for several years to determine which cultivars would grow well in the South African climate using mostly cultivars from Europe.
They are in the process of redefining industrial hemp and the issue has been strongly debated in Parliament. The Department of Health still controls the issuing of research permits, which involves applying to possess a narcotic drug. Thus there are no commercial farms yet in South Africa despite hemp having no psychoactive component.
Sectors that have been identified as suitable for South Africa include:
- Agri-fibres for car parts (dashboards, door panels etc.)
- Eco-friendly paper
- Natural cement, bricks and insulation for housing
- Animal bedding
- Nutrition from the essential fatty-acid rich seeds
Job creation will be a natural spin-off from the introduction of this new industry. In essence, hemp could help alleviate three of South Africa’s most pressing issues:
- Job creation
The National Agri-fibre Initiative (NAFI) has been launched by Diverse International Trade (Pty) Ltd to boost the agri-fibre industry in South Africa and is making much headway with regard to creating awareness and lobbying support for this fledgling industry.
Hemporium is located in Cape Town and has been importing and developing hemp products in SAfrica for around 15 years. They have a comprehensive website and online shop that you can navigate. They collaborated with their partners on the three year trials in Western Cape that have proved very successful in showing cultivar behaviour and production. See the links below for fascinating youtube videos on the trials.
Other African countries
Other African countries debating and considering hemp include Zambia, Swaziland and Namibia. The heat is on to gain first mover advantage but in these countries, hemp would compete with industry and manufacturing that is already well established.
Since Malawi is predominantly agricultural based it stands to benefit considerably from hemp as a new cash crop by creating raw materials for export or value-added products. However, it is vital that a regional market is developed to bring hemp out of the ‘niche’ market and into the mainstream. It is developing this way in Europe and hemp foods are beginning to become a staple on supermarket shelves.
Several stakeholders in the region, including Invegrow, are discussing the establishment of the African Cannabis and Hemp Association (ACHA) that will support this market development and lobbying efforts.
2,000 ha in five years. This is small in the agricultural world but will offer some valuable insights into the behavior and yields of hemp on a larger scale. There are opportunities for many players in and out of Malawi.
Invegrow plans to spearhead and advise Government in order to develop a National Industrial Hemp Strategy for the nation.