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Malawi ready for cannabis output

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Gracious Lungu

Malawi is ready to start commercial production and processing of cannabis for medicinal and industrial use, the Cannabis Regulatory Authority has said.

The authority says following passing of a bill last year that makes it legal to cultivate and process cannabis, the country has made strides towards commencement of production of the commodity.

The cannabis is touted as potential replacement for tobacco, Malawi’s single-top export crop, which is facing extinction.

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In an interview last week, Cannabis Regulatory Authority Director General Salipira Makoka said there is high potential in developing the cannabis market in Malawi and across the borders.

“If all goes according to plan, Malawi stands to benefit and looking at the value of these products, especially medicinal products on the external market, they will fetch good money.

“We are really optimistic as this could move us a mile from where we are,” Makoka said.

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He said plans are in the pipeline to set up a structured market for the commodity.

Introduction of the commodity comes as tobacco is facing myriad challenges including the anti-smoking lobby by the World Health Organisation leading to a drastic drop in both output and revenue in the past decade.

But in an interview, Ministry of Agriculture spokesperson Gracian Lungu said the crop is not dead yet.

“Despite the need to shift from relying too much on tobacco to cannabis, there is still a potential in tobacco and we cannot stop relying on it anytime soon. We will still grow tobacco even up to the last cigarette which will be produced,” Lungu said.

However, President Lazarus Chakwera said recently that country is poised to leave tobacco behind in favour of the prospective high-growth crop, cannabis.

In his State of the Nation Address on Wednesday, Chakwera lamented tobacco’s loss of charm.

“The inconvenient truth is that while Malawi has come a long way by relying on tobacco as our largest single crop contributor to our GDP, this reliance is now seriously threatened by declining demand worldwide,” Chakwera said.

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