Prohibition Partners/ACA Group
26 December 2022 at 11:00:00
Malawi seeks to develop the hemp industry to make up for declining earnings from the tobacco sector. However, authorities have been criticized for the high cost of license fees. At US$!0 000 this is way out of reach for most small-scale tobacco farmers.
Malawi has taken meaningful steps to establish its cannabis industry.
Cannabis and industrial hemp cultivation and processing were legalised in 2020, and have been earmarked as a priority sector, serving as a substitute for declining tobacco exports.
Malawi receives 70% of its foreign currency earnings from tobacco, which contributes 13% of gross domestic product (GDP). With agriculture employing over 80% of Malawians, the development of the hemp industry is a top priority for the government.
Similar to South Africa, Malawi’s President also made special mention of cannabis and hemp in his 2021 State of The Nation address, emphasising the potential of the plant to replace declining tobacco exports.
The Chairperson of Malawi’s newly established Cannabis Regulatory Authority, Boniface Kadzamira, has stated that 72 licences have been issued for cannabis activities since legalisation. Licence fees have been criticised by local farmers for being too expensive, costing up to US$10,000, a significant sum for one of the world’s poorest countries.
Malawi has also taken proactive measures to boost its competitiveness in the sector. In 2021, Malawi entered into a training agreement with the United States Cannabis Association, a plan designed to upskill locals in cannabis and hemp cultivation, operations, compliance and distribution. The United States Cannabis Association has also committed to assisting Malawi identify suitable international buyers.
In 2021, the government approached Mike Tyson to be the national ambassador for Malawi’s cannabis industry; a move criticised by some locals due to Tyson’s previous convictions.
Invegrow is Malawi’s leading cannabis company, having received authorisation from the Malawian government to research hemp since 2013. The company has played a pivotal role in educating the government on the potential of cannabis as a cash crop, and has provided guidance on regulations, strain suitability and global competitiveness.
With Malawian high THC strains, such as Malawi Gold already world famous, the country has significant potential to develop competitive cannabis and industrial hemp sectors with the right investments, policy framework and skills development.