Following successful industrial hemp trials at Chitedze Research Station in Lilongwe, government has approved to have the trials conducted in other environments.
The station has so far tested 10 varieties acquired from Europe, China and Australia to assess if they have low levels of the substance that drive people crazy when they smoke marijuana. The trials, which started in 2015, are expected to end this year.
Speaking during presentation of the findings at this year’s annual review and planning meeting in Mzuzu on Tuesday, Department of Agriculture Research Services (Dars) chief scientist Laurent Pungulani said the trials have established that the varieties have lower levels of the substance compared to the limit set by the international community.
He said following the Chiteze Research Station trials, Dars has given the go-ahead to have the varieties tested in other places.
“I have in mind Chitala Research Station which has a completely different environment from Chitedze because it is very hot. Probably, we will have to have another trial where temperatures are low and a good example could be Bvumbwe Research Station because it is cooler and receives high rainfall,” said Pungulani.
InveGrow director Tanya Clarke, whose company is a stakeholder in the trials, said some foreign investors are already inquiring about the industrial hemp although some are confusing it with marijuana.
“We are getting a lot of interest coming our way from international investors, but there is still confusion on marijuana and industrial hemp. We are now explaining this to international companies and making sure that they are not thinking that it is marijuana,” she said.