Malawi is set to start the growing of Cannabis for industrial and medicinal purposes as 31 companies have been given a go-ahead and shown readiness and commitment to cultivate the crop.
Chairperson of the Cannabis Regulatory Authority (CRA) Boniface Kadzamira confirmed the country’s readiness to start the production of the crop during a meeting with the Parliamentary Committee of Agriculture.
In their applications, the companies have indicated the hectares to be grown as stipulated by law in their business plans and all this information is available at the Secretariat.
Over 100 applications with expressions of interest were received by an industry which promises to bring economic fortunes.
“We received over 100 people who expressed interest but now we have received about 86 applications on different licences.
“If it’s properly managed, if we follow all the prescribed processes, it’s an industry that can bring us a lot of money; but if we don’t follow that then even the market would elude us,” stated Kadzamira.
He attributed delays in the roll out of the initiative to some of the procedures which had to be followed.
One of the procedures is the importation of seeds in bulk which has be through shipping only and takes a maximum of forty days to get to the nearest port and 60 days to reach Malawi.
Kadzamira nonetheless indicated the law allows them to give a permit to those who want to bring their own seed; but in specific quantities for purposes of research, seed breeding and other things; but it cannot be sold to others and is only restricted to one’s farm.
The Cannabis Regulatory Authority Chairperson said they were meeting without logistical support as part of its commitment to seeing the initiative materialise.
With Parliament’s intervention, CRA has been given K100 million but due to processes the Authority was up to this point not able access the funds but it opened an account last week and hopes to access the funds in the coming weeks.
For those wishing to grow the medicinal one which is cash intensive but has a lot of restrictions, he appealed to them adhere to protocols as most investors in this area want to do that with a variety which has got a above one percent THC level because the more the THC level, the more one makes medicines.
Kadzamira is confident that most people would participate in the production of industrial hemp variety as it does not have too many restrictions.
He underscored on the need to sensitize the public as there is a lot of misconception on the crop since most are of the view that the local chamba has been legalized and are ready to grow it.
“So if they do that and are in conflict with the law, then they will look at CRA as a body that hasn’t helped them so that’s why we wanted to go out first and sensitize the people on the industry the type of the varieties that has been approved and on how this industry is going to be managed,” he said.
On the availability of seeds, he disclosed that currently there are no seeds in the country apart from the ones used by the two companies which were undertaking trials.
Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee of Agriculture Sameer Suleman hailed the interface with the Authority which accorded them chance to appreciate the progress made so far.
Suleman acknowledged that more needs to be done as the regulatory authority is yet to be financed despite Parliament’s approval of its funds hence its having problems to kick start some of its operations.
He expressed the Committee’s disappointment over reports of some individuals who are forming cooperatives and collecting money from the public.
“It is disappointing as a Committee to learn that there are some individuals who are forming cooperatives and collecting huge sums of money from Malawians who are not well conversant with what is happening.
“They are being duped and as a Committee we’ll have to seriously look into this and maybe report to the authorities because the people that are collecting these monies have not even yet been awarded licence to cultivate hemp so we are surprised and shocked to learn that people are paying huge sums of money just to be a member of a cooperative which has not even been approved or authorized or licenced to be in the process of this hemp production,” he lamented
Suleman was upbeat the venture will bring in the much needed forex in the country if well administered.
He stressed on the need to have more extension workers to go into the communities for them to understand the concept which is controlled and has procedures to be followed.