The Sunday News
Vuyisile Mlilo, Business Reporter
THE cultivation of industrial hemp in Zimbabwe is emerging as a dynamic sector with the potential to aiding the country’s economic growth prospects.
Industrial hemp is a botanical class of cannabis sativa cultivars grown specifically for industrial or medicinal use.
In Zimbabwe, the cultivation of industrial hemp is emerging as a dynamic industry with promising benefits for the nation. With a clear distinction between industrial hemp and “recreational” marijuana, the country is poised to harness the potential of this versatile crop as a potential major export commodity.
However, there have been a lot of misconceptions around industrial hemp which saw industry players engaging in a round table discussion to dismiss some of the claims associated with the sector.
Chief executive officer of the Zimbabwe Hemp Trust, Mr Munyaradzie Shamudzarira said the country’s legislative reforms have played a crucial role in removing hemp from the category of dangerous drugs, allowing for its cultivation and development.
“Zimbabwe is very well placed to take advantage of industrial hemp, the first one is that we have an abundant source of land to grow large quantities of industrial hemp compared to other countries like in Europe where they are restricted as to how they can convert agricultural land to grow industrial hemp.
Secondly our Government has been very quick to legalise cannabis compared to other countries and also providing the legislative framework to oversee the operations of the sector,” he said.
Mr Shamudzarira revealed that industrial hemp fortified the soil which it is grown on while also helping to retain biodiversity noting that the plant had a unique ability of absorbing large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
“Hemp acts as a natural buttress, supporting the growth and sustainability of the Zimbabwean tobacco sector. Its presence enhances the soil quality and helps combat pests and diseases, resulting in improved yields and quality of tobacco crops,” said the Zimbabwe Hemp Trust CEO.
“Apart from its environmental and agricultural advantages, hemp also holds significant economic potential for Zimbabwe.
Its quicker turnover rate compared to other crops, like eucalyptus trees, makes it an attractive option for sustainable profitability. With proper cultivation and processing, industrial hemp can generate a range of products such as fibres, oils, and even building materials, contributing to job creation and economic growth,” added Mr Shamudzarira.