The United States Cannabis Association (USCA) has advised 29 of the 50 cooperatives contracted to produce the newly approved types of industrial and medicinal cannabis to adhere to production standards.
The association’s chief executive officer for Malawi Wezzie Ngalamira said they are ready to buy at a profit the cannabis that the cooperatives will produce.
USCA held a meeting in Lilongwe with the 29 cooperatives from Central Region.
Said Ngalamila: “We are just orienting them, but starting from the next two weeks, we will assign trainers to each cooperative who are going to be with them for 14 weeks then they will be left to continue alone because we believe by then they will have mastered the process.”
She said their buying price will enable cooperatives to make up to K80 million from the investment of between K20 million and K30 million per hectare.
“We have already made calculations of how much a well-managed hectare can produce and multiply that by the prices that we are setting, a hectare can give you up to K80 million so you can see how profitable this is,” said Ngalamila.
She said they are promoting the medical, health and therapeutic benefits of the compounds of the cannabis plant cannabinol and oil hemp.
Mchinji Cannabis Cooperative chairperson Mathews Osman said though the cooperatives are worried with the huge investment that is needed, the discussions with the association were fruitful because many questions and confusions that farmers had were addressed.
He said the cooperatives are geared to start the journey with energy and urged the association to engage commercial banks to come up with loan facilities that are reasonable to give cooperatives a stepping stone.
Osman said: “So far so good, we are just waiting for the trainings to start, but as it is now, we believe it is something we can do.
“Almost all of us are done with field preparations and are just waiting for the rains and the lessons.”
In April 2021, the Cannabis Regulatory Authority (CRA) announced that it had issued 86 licences to companies and cooperatives who satisfied the requirements for them to grow the crop.
CRA chairperson Boniface Kadzamira said companies or individuals that do not have licences should not produce the commodity, observing that it would be contravening the regulations and will attract a penalty of up to K50 million.
Malawi passed a bill decriminalising cannabis for medicinal and industrial purposes in 2020, almost five years after a motion to legalise industrial hemp was adopted by Parliament.
The bill faced strong opposition from social and religious circles when it was just introduced.