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Zimbabwe Continues Shift From Tobacco To Cannabis

tobacco tobacco

Cannabis reform is spreading across the African continent, albeit in a slower fashion compared to most other continents. Many countries in Africa are at least exploring medical cannabis reform. In the case of South Africa, adult-use legalization appears to be on the way soon.

African nations have historically taken a harsh stance against cannabis, treating it as a very harmful substance. Fortunately, that has changed in recent years, including in Zimbabwe.

Zimbabwe is currently the largest producer of tobacco in Africa. In fact, it is estimated that as much as 20% of Zimbabwe’s exports are for tobacco. With demand for tobacco products shrinking across the globe, farmers in Zimbabwe are looking for a better crop to cultivate.

Cannabis cultivation was decriminalized in some instances in Zimbabwe in 2018, and the country’s first legal harvest occurred a year later. Industry regulations came a year after that, and Zimbabwe is now home to an emerging legal cannabis industry. Per Hemp Today:

Investors from Germany, Switzerland and Canada are among those who have received cultivation and processing licenses under Zimbabwe’s cannabis program. A total of 57 licenses were handed to both foreign and local enterprises, the Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency (ZIDA) announced this week.

The Ministry of Lands and the Medicines Control Authority of Zimbabwe are working with ZIDA in administration of the cannabis business, and share authority for regulatory requirements.

ZIDA said some farms are already operating.

The legal cannabis export landscape is getting more crowded by the day, with more countries ramping up their domestic cultivation operations with an eye for the international market.

The timing of Zimbabwe’s export licensing efforts could prove to be crucial if it results in the country gaining a significant foothold on the international export market prior to other countries being able to do so, including other countries in Africa.

Adult-use legalization does not appear to be on its way any time soon in Zimbabwe, however, if the cannabis plant can surpass the tobacco plant when it comes to revenue generation, that could speed up the process.