Zimbabwe publishes guidelines for the farming and production of cannabis, which includes industrial production of hemp. In a bid to boost the country’s foreign exchange revenue, the Zimbabwean government embraces the rapidly growing cannabis industry.
The minister of agriculture, Anxious Masuka, said that there are three permitted categories recognized under regulations published in a government gazette. The five-year permits are issued to researchers, farmers, and industrial hemp merchants.
The regulations allow farmers to grow, market, and sell industrial hemp, while researchers can only cultivate the crop for study purposes. It also indicates that merchants may source hemp directly from farmers and process industrial hemp into products according to regulations.
So far, 37 licenses have been approved and are limited to Zimbabwean citizens and legal residents.
The move to legalize industrial cannabis production comes a year after the government’s trial run on a ten-hectare plot. The trial project, which was handled by the Zimbabwe Industrial Hemp Trust (ZIHT), cultivated five European hemp strains. The trial phase produced mixed outcomes, as only two of the hemp varieties performed well. The results indicated that poor rainfall and high temperatures were factors in the crop’s unanticipated rapid growth and flowering.
The Zimbabwean government champions its cannabis program to boost the country’s economy. The government said that it is advancing the program in part as a solution to the rapidly declining demand for cash crops in the country.
Zimbabwe is a traditionally agricultural nation with a 17 percent contribution to its GDP stemming from the agricultural sector. However, recently the country’s historically leading cash crop, tobacco, has seen a decline on its demand. Consequently, the government views cannabis as a cash crop with huge economic potential.
The production of cannabis for medicinal and research purposes in Zimbabwe took place in 2018.