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Malawi: Govt Urges Cannabis Farmers to Form Co-Ops to Increase Bargaining Power

By Brighton Tchongwe, Nyasa Times

Malawi’s Agriculture Minister, Lobin Lowe, has urged cannabis growers to form cooperatives in order to have enhanced bargaining power, which is critical in realizing more benefits in their farming business.

Lowe made the remarks on 29 October 2021 during a cooperatives training workshop for cannabis growers in Traditional Authority Nyoka in Mchinji District.

The minister said cannabis production, if taken seriously, has the potential to help the country in achieving the Malawi 2063 development blueprint, which has a pillar of agriculture commercialization.

He said the plant is regulated unlike other crops like maize and beans; hence, the need for those certified farmers to be equipped with expertise so that they meet International standards.

“The trainings are an opportunity to our co-operatives to be well equipped with high standards of skills to meet international standards because unlike other crop they rely on export markets which are highly competitive, hence for our farmers to be competitive, they need to have highly skilled co-operatives,” said Lowe.

However, he warned Malawians with intentions to grow the crop against rushing before getting a license, stressing that doing so would be contravening the law governing the production of cannabis in Malawi.

In her remarks, the United States Cannabis Association Chief Executive Officer, Wezzi Ngalamira, said his organisation will act as bridge between farmers and already identified buyer.

Ngalamira said the association will come up with a system whereby they are going to buy from different farmers and cooperatives on behalf of the US branch.

On prices, she assured the farmers that they will not be duped as it is with other industries “because government will regulate the prices so that there is a win-win situation between the farmer and the buyer.”

The Cannabis Regulatory Authority (CRA) chairperson Boniface Kadzamira expressed optimism that the country stands to benefit from the certified industrial hemp.

Kadzamira said, so far, they have licensed about 72 both local and international companies.

“Let me warn those that haven’t been licensed not to engage themselves into this farming because doing so is contravening the law of the Cannabis Act. The penalties for non-compliance range from 50 million kwacha and 25 years imprisonment, hence people should not dare to taste the law,” he said.

But Kadzamira disclosed that the government is considering issuing some special licenses to local farmers who may wish to grow local varieties so that Malawians can also benefit from their locally produced variety.

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