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Pursue value-addition, hemp farmers urged

The report revealed that in the 2020/21 farming season, there were 21 registered players and they rose to 42 the following season before increasing to 61 in the 2022/23 season.

ZIMBABWE is set to become a regional powerhouse in industrial hemp production and related products, if the increase in the number of registered players in the value chain is anything to go by.

According to an Industrial Hemp Overview report produced by the Agricultural Marketing Authority (Ama) recently, the number of registered industrial hemp players has increased over the past three seasons.

The report revealed that in the 2020/21 farming season, there were 21 registered players and they rose to 42 the following season before increasing to 61 in the 2022/23 season.

One can register as an industrial hemp cultivator, merchant or researcher/breeder.

Ama chief executive officer Clever Isaya (pictured) said the increased number of players would amount to nothing if our players did not engage in value addition.

“The sector has generated a lot of interest worldwide, so we urge local players to forge strategic partnerships and move ahead and add value to industrial hemp. Value addition and beneficiation of industrial hemp will enable Zimbabwe to derive maximum benefits from this crop for shared prosperity among its citizens,” he said.

By this, Isaya said, Zimbabwe would graduate to become a competitive player in industrial hemp production and related products.

In line with government’s value addition and beneficiation thrust, a local company, African Medical Cannabis Biotech is extracting hemp oil from the plant.

African Medical Cannabis Biotech marketing director Munyaradzi Chedondo said there were numerous opportunities in value adding industrial hemp.

“So far, we are concentrating on exporting bulk oils we extract from industrial hemp to South Africa. Unfortunately, prices on the international market have been going down as a kilogramme of hemp oil is now going for US$300 because of oversupply. Local players can pursue other opportunities such as product development, especially cosmetics and supplements. It is a lucrative market,” he said.

However, the sector is facing challenges which include unavailability of seed varieties that suit Zimbabwe’s climatic conditions, local internationally certified testing centres and a guaranteed market.

The lack of local markets has forced local players to pursue export markets, especially for CBD flower to Switzerland and Poland.

Last year, Ama partnered a Polish company, Plantiqua Hemp, where the latter agreed to buy hemp from local farmers because the company has a ready market and processing plants in the European country.

Europe offers market opportunities for local hemp producers, but they are supposed to work under strict production frameworks, among them the Good Agricultural and Collection Practices and Good Manufacturing Practice certifications.

The production and marketing of industrial hemp was legalised through the promulgation of Statutory Instrument 218 of 2020 Agricultural Marketing Authority (Industrial Hemp) Regulations.

Industrial hemp is a botanical class of cannabis sativa cultivars, grown specifically for industrial or medicinal use. There are two types of cannabis — medicinal and hemp.

Zimbabwe’s agricultural sector continues to register significant strides after surpassing the US$8,2 billion economy targeted for 2025 and is now contributing over 12% of the country’s gross domestic product.

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