ZIMBABWEAN farmers looking to cash in on a global boom in medicinal cannabis face a litany of costs and regulatory barriers, but growers like Munyaradzi Nyanungo are betting it will boost their fortunes after decades of economic decline.
The southern African country became one of the first in Africa to legalise the production of medicinal cannabis in 2018, hoping for a fresh income stream of badly needed export dollars, and has issued 57 licences.
With finance coming in from foreign companies like US-based King Kong Organics, black farmers like Nyanungo, 35 – who have struggled to prosper in a moribund economy – are looking to branch out from traditional crops like tobacco into cannabis.
‘We stand to sell cannabis at $25 per kilogramme, which is five, six times more than what a good tobacco crop can give you. We are actually sitting on a green gold mine,’ Nyanungo said.
The global cannabis industry could be worth $272bn by 2028, according to Barclays analysts, and Zimbabwe’s Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube has said the country wants at least $1bn of that – more than it currently makes from its top agricultural export tobacco.
As Africa’s biggest tobacco producer, Zimbabwean officials also recognise the need to diversify away from the addictive narcotic that is proven to be ruinous to the health of smokers and those around them. Cannabis is seen as a less harmful alternative to cigarettes and its cannabidiol (CBD) widely accepted as a natural remedy.
But challenges remain, not least the huge cost of getting set up amid tight regulations, such as the requirement to use a greenhouse to meet the criteria for ‘organically grown’ cannabis – necessary to be able to sell it to the medical market.
‘A greenhouse is very costly,’ Nyanungo said, trimming the distinctive fan-shaped leaves on his farm. ‘This entire greenhouse: you need something around $500,000 just to set up the structure,’ not including the drip system and seed inputs.
Nyanungo’s US-based partner, King Kong Organics, which supplies seed and other inputs, purchased the greenhouses under an off-take agreement that will see the company buying the cannabis crop for processing.
That, he said, brings the cost of growing a single hectare of cannabis up to $2.5 million. He and other producers are currently lobbying the government to relax the rules – and lower the costs.
The Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency, which licences cannabis producers, did not respond to a request for comment.
‘If anyone is going to grow medical grade cannabis, it’s going to be at their risk because there are too many variables,’ said Zorodzai Maroveke, CEO and founder of Zimbabwe Industrial Hemp Trust. ‘So much can go wrong.’
Still, the rewards could be substantial.
Operating since 2003, Nyanungo’s Forest Farm has been growing traditional crops of tobacco and maize, and raising cattle, but acquired the cannabis licence in 2020. Of his 80 farm hands, 20 now work on the cannabis plants.
He expects to earn $2.5 million in profit from the first harvest in August, significantly higher than what he earned from his other crops and livestock.
Ogun Guber: Adebutu’s Lawyers Write INEC
THE candidate of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), Ladi Adebutu, has written to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), through...Read more
NNPP Accuses Ganduje’s Govt Of Unleashing Violence On Kano Residents
NEW Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP) has accused the Kano State government of unleashing violence on unsuspecting residents after the declaration...Read more
Elections: Anti-Tinubu Protesters Ground Abuja, Demand Interim Government, Fresh Polls
.Want US to revoke visas of 15 RECs FRESH protests on Thursday rocked the nation’s capital, Abuja over the just...Read more
Security Tightens As Appeal Court Decides Adeleke, Oyetola’s Suit Today
THE Osun State chapters of the Peoples Democratic Party and the All Progressives Congress have expressed hope for victory, as...Read more
Ayu Worked For APC, Should Face Disciplinary Committee For anti-party – Ortom
GOVERNOR Samuel Ortom of Benue State has accused the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu of anti-party activities....Read more
March 18: Kaduna Governor-elect, Uba Sani To Sue PDP
KADUNA State Governor-elect, Uba Sani is preparing to challenge certain results of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) after the March...Read more
Six Guber Candidates, 13 Political Parties Congratulate Akwa Ibom Governor-elect
ABOUT six governorship candidates of the 2023 elections in Akwa Ibom State as well as 13 political parties have shunned...Read more
My Suspension By Ayu Last Kick Of A Dead Horse — Fayose
Former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose has described his purported suspension from the PDP, by the Senator Iyorchia Ayu-led...Read more
VIDEONEWS: Abia PDP Gave Themselves 108,000 Votes In Obingwa Against 9k – Alex Otti
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTn6k5Bn8-I ABIA State Governor-Elect, Alex Otti has said that PDP gave themselves 108,000 votes in Obingwa LGA as against over...Read more
Ondo Election: Tribunal Receives Nine Petitions, Sets To Begin Sitting
LEGAL battles regarding the just concluded general elections are about to commence in Ondo State as nine petitions have been...Read more
PDP suspends Fayose, Pius Anyim, Others
THE Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, has suspended former governor of Ekiti State, Ayodele Fayose, former senate president, Pius Anyim, Prof...Read more
APC Suspends Buhari’s SSG, Boss Mustapha
THE ward of Boss Mustapha, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, has suspended him. In a letter seen by...Read more
BREAKING: PDP’s Peter Ndubuisi Mbah Declared Governor-elect Of Enugu
THE candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Enugu State, Dr. Peter Mbah, has won the March 18 governorship...Read more
Abia Guber: Alex Otti Reacts s INEC Declares Him Governor-elect
ABIA State Governor-elect, Alex Otti of the Labour Party has pledged to serve Abians judiciously for the next four years....Read more
Reps To CBN: Direct Commercial Banks To Overhaul E-platforms
We Are Moving Spare Parts Market In Lagos To The East – Igbo Traders Union
CBN Increases Monetary Policy Rate To 18%