Anticipated demand for cannabis is projected to continue to grow while tobacco output globally may decline 15% by 2030, according to Meanwell Gudu, the CEO of Zimbabwe’s Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board.
“One of the alternative crops we are looking at is industrial hemp,” he said by phone on Monday. “We want to be part of the entire industrial hemp chain.” Tobacco earned the country $819m in revenue in 2021.
Farming cannabis for medical use in Zimbabwe was first legalised in 2019. The board has 145,000 registered tobacco growers, who started selling 2022’s crop at auctions last week. Farmers will be encouraged to plant cannabis so that a quarter of their income comes from the plant by 2025, Gudu said.
The country exported 30 tonnes of industrial hemp to Switzerland in 2022, its first foray into the European market, said Zorodzai Maroveke, the founder of the Zimbabwe Industrial Hemp Trust.
The group is partnering with the tobacco board to facilitate the “smooth transition” to cannabis for commercial purposes.