Story by Tichaona Kurewa
Industrial hemp farmers have commended the government for increasing the psychoactive compound in the product saying the move will attract investment in the sector and increase the competitiveness of the merchandise on the international market.
In November 2021, the Zimbabwe Industrial Hemp Trust (ZIHT) submitted a position paper to the government lobbying for the redefinition of industrial hemp whose psychoactive compound was pegged at 0.3% and below.
This was on the back of the slow development of the industry with farmers being subjected to a monopoly of expensive European seeds and suppliers.
The psychoactive compound in industrial hemp has since been increased from 0.3% to 1%, with ZIHT indicating that the latest development will come with a surge in the export of the product.
Founder and chief executive officer of Zimbabwe Industrial Hemp Trust, Dr Zorodzai Maroveke said, ‘‘The benefits of the new definition in the amendment include improving Zimbabwe’s competitiveness in Africa, attracting investment, socio-economic inclusion, positioning Zimbabwe to be a seed producer, improving scope of research, relieving the regulator of tedious policing and proving yet again that the listening government is indeed a listening government.’’
A farmer, Mr Bryan Chimbira noted, “The new law is very progressive and, in many respects, will assist Zimbabwean farmers to be more competitive in the market both here and abroad. Our growing conditions make it such that any industrial hemp variety you grow even if the seeds were compliant with the old 0.3% limitations would on growing “heat up” and increase in concentration because of the high temperatures experienced. This phenomenon happened to most farmers resulting in losses because all these crops would have to be destroyed. The increase in the limit to 1% is therefore a welcome relief. Most markets the world over are moving to this increased limit of 1%. So, this makes our business more viable as we remain more competitive. The increased limits also assist the users of industrial hemp flower which is used to extract oil for medicine.’’
The government has been licencing farmers for the production of Industrial hemp since 2020 thereby allowing research and development of the crop.
Over 40 producers have so far been licenced under the Agriculture Marketing Authority.
Industrial hemp is used as a raw material in the manufacturing of pharmaceutical drugs, textiles, edible oils and livestock feed.