Zimbabwe’s tobacco industry is eyeing cannabis as a major source of revenue, anticipating a sharp global drop in tobacco consumption that will curb one of the country’s main exports.
In the words of Meanwell Gudu, Director General of the Zimbabwe Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board), reported by Bloomberg, demand for cannabis is expected to continue to grow as global tobacco production could decline by 15% by 2030.
“One of the alternative crops we are looking at is industrial hemp,” he said by phone Monday. “We want to be part of the whole industrial hemp chain.”
Tobacco brought in $819 million in the country last year. The cultivation of cannabis for medical purposes in Zimbabwe was legalized in 2018.
The Tobacco Board has 145,000 registered growers, who began auctioning this year’s crop last week. Farmers will be encouraged to plant cannabis so that a quarter of their income will come from the plant by 2025, Meanwell Gudu said.
“It’s a crop that demands attention to detail, just like tobacco, and we’re confident they’ll have the skills,” he said.
Last year, the country exported 30 tons of industrial hemp to Switzerland, its first foray into the European market, said Zorodzai Maroveke, founder of the Zimbabwe Industrial Hemp Trust. The group is working in partnership with the Tobacco Board to facilitate the “smooth transition” to cannabis for commercial use.
“Switzerland is the first gateway to Europe,” said Zorodzai Maroveke. “An additional 20 tonnes of industrial hemp is expected to be exported to the European nation,” she added. »
The Office will seek export markets for industrial hemp, including China and the European Union, and will also seek to develop a local market, Meanwell Gudu said.