As debate on legalisation of the use of industrial hemp continues, a South Africa-based researcher has thrown weight behind it, saying it can boost the country’s economy.
In an interview last week, the researcher and managing director of Ikaros Africa Sandro Righini said Malawi has an equal chance with other African countries such as South Africa to register an economic boom if it invests in growing industrial hemp.
He said: “Ikaros Africa has been engaging government for the last three years to bring medical hemp to Malawi. We had a lot of assistance from the government of Malawi as it is very much behind this initiative.
“The benefits of bringing the industry are that we will be creating jobs, economic growth, and direct foreign investment. We will also be opening a global market to Malawi which is currently worth $20 billion a year.”
Righini said the product has reliable markets in North America, Canada, Spain, Switzerland, Italy and Poland.
In a written response yesterday, Civil Society on Agriculture Network (CisaNet) executive director Pamela Kuwali supported claims that the industry can help improve the country’s development.
But she warned that systems need to be put in place to prevent abuse of the substance.
She said: “While industrial hemp promises potential to contribute to economic growth, if Malawi decides to legalise it, it would be critical to ensure enough legal provision to seal any loopholes for abuse.”
On his part, Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation Water and Development Grey Nyandule Phiri said: “Potential investors have been meeting different government officials. So far we have made trials on the industry and we have not yet analysed the paper for us to move to the next step.
“However, we will present the issue to Cabinet. If it is something good for the country, then we want it to be done properly, knowing that other countries have their own safeguards.”
According to Ikaros Africa-Malawi office, the organisation has from 2015 spent over K380 million on research at Chitara Research Centre in Salima.
Righini, who said his company has been exporting products made from marijuana crop, claims Malawi stands a chance of gaining over $100 million (about K75 billion) annually from sales of marijuana products.
Information sourced from www.mcdsa.co.za indicates that products made from industrial cannabis can be used for treating ailments such as cancer, diabetes and many others.