By Deogratias Mmana
Malawi Defence Force (MDF) has partnered with Greenway Limited to grow, process and export industrial hemp and medicinal cannabis.
MDF will utilise its Liwerezi Farm in Mchinji for the production of the cannabis (chamba).
Cultivation of hemp is one of the reform areas MDF under Ministry of Defence promised to carry out under commercialisation of its agriculture production.
Cannabis Regulatory Authority (CRA) has since granted the venture a licence for the cultivation and exportation of hemp.
“Currently, Malawi Defence Force is holding final negotiations with Greenway Limited, for a partnership agreement to cultivate, process, manufacture, import and export Industrial Hemp and Medicinal Cannabis (IHMS)-related products at Liwerezi MDF Farm in Mchinji,” reads a September 2021 reforms progress report from Ministry of Defence.
The report further says: “A project proposal and business plan for the joint venture are being reviewed by MDF in order to complete an MoU. Meanwhile, licence from Cannabis Regulatory Authority has been obtained for the joint venture.”
MDF acting spokesperson Emmanuel Mlelemba said he was outside the country and needed time to comment on the development.
But CRA Board Chairperson Boniface Kadzamira confirmed the granting of the licence to the enterprise in May this year.
“MDF has entered into an agreement with one of the local investors where MDF has allowed the investor to use one of their farms in Mchinji about the making of uniforms,” Kadzamira said.
He said Greenway Limited was also issued with a licence in the same month this year.
Kadzamira said since CRA was put in place, it has issued about 70 licences to companies and cooperatives including College of Medicine in Blantyre and Agricultural Research and Extension Trust in Lilongwe.
Other companies are Medigrow, Malawi Mangoes, Africa Gold Limited, Tilimenawo Cannabis Club, Capital Food Limited, Pharmanova, Prime Pharmaceuticals, M’mbelwa Investment Limited, Dynamic Traders and Organic Cannabis Farmers Cooperative.
Parliament passed a bill in February 2020 that made it legal to cultivate and process cannabis for medicines and hemp fibre used in industry but stopped short of decriminalising recreational use.
Kadzamira said at that time the authority had received more than 100 applications for licences to venture into the growing of industrial hemp.
He told Reuters in 2020 that hemp – a strain of the cannabis plant that contains little or no tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, the substance that makes people high – has the potential to surpass earnings from tobacco, touted as the country’s main export crop.