By Everson Mushava
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government yesterday approved the production of industrial hemp to be used to source for foreign currency and produce fuel.
Briefing the media after yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa said the benefits of the industrial hemp included production of building products, textiles, paper and plastics from hemp fibre; processing of fuel from hemp seed, while the crop can substitute tobacco as the biggest foreign currency earner.
“Hemp is bio-degradable, compostable, recyclable, non-toxic and capable of carbon sequestration and hence, reduces global warming effects; and industrial hemp will widen the country’s industrial and export base,” Mutsvangwa said.
“Currently, Zimbabwe, through Statutory Instrument 62 of 2018, only allows for the cultivation and processing of cannabis specifically for medicinal and scientific purposes. In view of the foregoing, the law governing the use and control of hemp in the country will be repealed to reflect the current industrial thrust of the country.”
More than a decade ago, Zimbabwe launched an ambitious jatropha biodiesel project when the country was faced with biting fuel shortages, but the project suffered a stillbirth.
Cabinet also revealed that it had concluded a power import bill with Eskom of South Africa to ease the power shortages back home.
“Cabinet was informed by the Minister of Energy and Power Development that an arrangement to unlock the supply of 400 megawatts has been concluded with Eskom.
In terms of this arrangement, government, through Treasury, has commenced the payment of US$890 000 per week towards the settlement of its debt to Eskom,” Mutsvangwa said.
“Furthermore, similar discussions will soon commence with HCB of Mozambique. Regarding fuel supply, Cabinet was informed that the situation had slightly improved during the week under review. The Minister of Energy and Power Development also advised Cabinet that the fuel supply situation was expected to improve even further within the next few days, on the back of the funding arrangements currently under active consideration.”