Government has partially gazetted the Cannabis Regulations which seek to guide licensing, production and marketing of cannabis for medicinal and industrial use.
Minister of Agriculture Lobin Lowe gazetted the regulations on November 20.
Cannabis Regulatory Authority (CRA) acting registrar Ketulo Salipira confirmed in an interview yesterday that the partial gazette of the regulations was done quickly to allow production this growing season.
This will be the first time Malawi will join other nations in producing industrial and medicinal cannabis touted to be among lucrative cash crops grown in the country.
Salipira said: “The partially gazetted regulations will allow interested stakeholders to start applying for production, marketing, storage and processing licences.
“We will soon publish a call for applications for licences as specified in the regulations. We tried to speed up the process of coming up with the regulations due to demand out there”.
Weeks ago, Salipira said they received over 60 applications for industrial and medicinal cannabis production in readiness for the coming 2020/21 growing season.
The regulations that we have seen show that applications for licences will attract a non-refundable fee of $1 000 ( about K740 000) for medicinal cannabis while industrial hemp is pegged at $500 (about K370 000).
Licence fees to cultivate and sell and licence to process is pegged at $10 000 (about K7.4 million) for medicinal cannabis while licence fees to cultivate and sell industrial hemp is at $2 000 (about K1.4 million) and licence to process industrial hemp is pegged at $5 000 (about K3.7 million).
Invegrow Limited, a company that conducted research on the crop, estimated that a kilogramme of industrial hemp fetches about K32 000 on the market and that there is potential of direct annual benefit to Malawians in excess of K3 billion on 16.5 hectares or K195 million per five hectares.
Invegrow Limited director Nebert Nyirenda expressed delight at the development saying the cannabis industry will now progress into production considerations.
He said: “The regulations give us an impetus to consider preparing for the growing season.”
On the fees, he said it is up to stakeholders to debate whether the fees are reasonable, adding that what is important is to have started.
Nyirenda said the crop has ready markets whose global value chain is worth about $9 billion (about K6. 6 trillion) which gives local investors a basis to take up industrial hemp production.
He said his company together with other interested stakeholders have all the necessary production and processing capacities in place.
The crop already underwent successful local trials and producers and manufacturers have been demanding for regulations to begin massive production.
The crop can be grown two or three times a year depending on the production purposes.