The president of Zimbabwe on Wednesday reportedly commissioned a farm and processing plant for medical cannabis cultivation worth $27 million.
Business Insider reports that President Emmerson Mnangagwa “commissioned the medical cannabis farm, and processing plant at Mount Hampden set up by Swiss Bioceuticals Limited in West Province, Zimbabwe…to produce cannabis (mbanje or dagga) for medical and scientific purposes,” saying in a speech that “the rapid development of the processing plant, which adds significant value to the crop, was a testimony of the success of the Government’s engagement policy and the confidence Swiss companies and investors had in Zimbabwe and its economy.”
“This milestone is a testimony of the successes of my Government’s Engagement and Re-engagement Policy. It further demonstrates the confidence that Swiss companies have in our economy through their continued investment in Zimbabwe. I extend my profound congratulations to the Swiss Bioceuticals Limited for this timely investment in the medicinal cannabis farm, processing plant and value chain, worth US$27 million,” Mnangagwa said in a speech on Wednesday, as quoted by Business Insider.
Business Insider reported that the president “added that the investors should follow the company’s lead and open their business to support the mantra that ‘Zimbabwe is Open for Business and be ready to generate foreign currency generation for the country.”
The announcement of the farm comes nearly three years after the country did away with its laws banning the cultivation of cannabis as it looked to produce a new crop to export. A year before that, in 2018, the country legalized medical cannabis.
The repeal of the ban is part of a concerted effort by Zimbabwe to pivot from its longtime major exporter, tobacco, of which it is the leading producer on the continent.
As tobacco exports bring in far less money to Zimbabwe farmers and producers than they used to, many in the country’s industry have shifted to cannabis production.
In reporting on the repeal of the cannabis ban in 2019, Bloomberg noted that the country was seeking “to boost export revenue and offset the global campaign against tobacco, a major source of foreign currency,” with Zimbabwe officials saying at the time that it would initially be focused on hemp and medicinal cannabis.
Earlier this week, Reuters detailed the country’s still-young medical cannabis industry and how farmers there have adapted.
Reuters, citing Barclays analysts, reported that the “global cannabis industry could be worth $272 billion by 2028,” and that “Zimbabwe’s Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube has said the country wants at least $1 billion of that—more than it currently makes from its top agricultural export tobacco.”
Reuters spotlighted a 35-year-old Zimbabwean grower named Munyaradzi Nyanungo, who has been issued one of the 57 cannabis operating licenses in the country.
“We stand to sell cannabis at $25 per kilogramme, which is five, six times more than what a good tobacco crop can give you. We are actually sitting on a green gold mine,” Nyanungo told Reuters.
Nyanungo has a U.S.-based partner in “King Kong Organics, which supplies seed and other inputs, purchased the greenhouses under an off-take agreement that will see the company buying the cannabis crop for processing.”
On Wednesday, Mnangagwa, the country’s president, “also urged other investors with permits to quickly operationalize their permits and licenses for the benefit of the economy in general and people in particular,” according to Business Insider.
“I challenge other players within the medicinal cannabis sub-sector to speedily set up their enterprises, focusing on value addition and beneficiation. It is disappointing that since 2018, only 15 out of the 57 entities issued with cannabis operating [licenses] have been operational,” Mnangagwa said, as quoted by Business Insider.