Malawian Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development, Allan Chiyembekeza said that the government has approved the cultivation of industrial hemp for trial purposes in the country. He told journalists in the capital Lilongwe that if the trials are successful, the crop could be grown in the country and support the National Export Strategy (NES).
“This could be the opportunity of diversifying the economy and widening the sources of foreign exchange earnings,” he said, just as recently, British envoy Michael Nevin suggested that Malawi should start growing industrial hemp for its economic growth.
He pointed out that the industrial hemp at hand is different from the Indian hemp popularly known as cannabis sativa that is prohibited as the industrial hemp variety does not contain psychoactive chemical elements that affect people when smokes even though it is from the same family crop.
Industrial hemp refers to, “the non-psychoactive (less than 1% THC) varieties of Cannabis Sativa L. Both hemp and marijuana come from the same cannabis species, but are genetically distinct and are further distinguished by use, chemical makeup, and cultivation methods.”
Industrial hemp has various uses, which include the manufacturing of paper, clothing, fibre, medicine and food products, amongst others.
Malawi is one of the largest producers of Cannabis in Southern Africa. It is mainly cultivated in remote parts of the central and northern regions. In the north, it can be found growing in Mzimba District’s Likwawa hills, and in Nkohotakota district. Nkhotakota District is known for producing the best marijuana, particularly near the banks of Lupache river. It can also be found at smaller quantities in the districts of Ntchisi, Kasungu, Ntcheu and Dedza. Most growers cultivate small, out of the way fields up on remote mountain hills, hidden in bushes, or intercropped with other field crops. There are a few commercial farmers.
The United Nations Development Assistance Framework report that in the late 1990s, estimated that up to 385,000 acres (1,560 km2) in the country were devoted to the cultivation of marijuana. Currently the country produces about 70,000 kilograms a year. Women are largely involved in cultivation of chamba, while men are mainly involved in marketing it.
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