Zimbabwe is one country in the world where the demand for crop production is very high because of the growing population’s demands. The demand for crop production is too high to sustain the national food and export requirements. Crop production, therefore, presents a lucrative opportunity. Most of the areas in Zimbabwe receive good rains and have fertile soils, ideal for growing different crops. The profitability of crop production, however, varies from one crop to the other. This article, therefore, focuses on Cannabis Sativa, the most profitable crop to grow in Zimbabwe.
Cannabis Sativa, commonly known as Marijuana or Hemp (English), Mbanje (Shona), Imbanje (Ndebele), Chamba (Chichewa), Dagga (Afrikaans), Ganja (Hindi), Hashish (Arabic) or Weed (Street name) is the most profitable cash crop recently legalized for medicinal and industrial purposes in Zimbabwe. The SI 2020-218 Agriculture Marketing Authority (Industrial Hemp) Regulations, 2020 document attached below, contains more details.
The crop requires the farmer to seek a licence/permit before embarking on the farming business. Unless someone holds the licence, the Dangerous Drugs Act, still enforces cannabis illegal to possess or use in Zimbabwe. It is illegal to import, export, transport, supply, or grow unless allowed to do so. The whole or any part of the marijuana plant is illegal, including the seeds. Offenders get severe punishment; a sentence of up to 10 years or heft fine for anyone found in possession, smoking, using, or managing premises where there is the consumption of the plant or any of its products. It is important to note that the license is valid for only 5 years, upon which renewal will be needed. Besides, the licence is granted for a particular area and purpose, beyond which a new licence will be required. Regular inspections will be conducted to ensure conformance to the authorized objectives. The Tonga tribe in Zimbabwe has for ages been growing marijuana for traditional reasons, with Binga being the heartland. However, the law applies to all the people in Zimbabwe alike.
Experts believe that marijuana has over 25000 uses, and offers significant economic advantages compared to any other crop. Based on the 2018 NFD (New Frontier Data), the global demand for marijuana (industrial, medicinal and illicit) was US$344,4 billion, with Africa contributing US$37,3 billion. Zimbabwe has a target of reaching US$1.25 billion dollars this year. The number of farmers licensed is, however, on the low side. This presents a tremendous opportunity for farmers. The plant has a very reliable export market, hence pricing is not heavily affected because of local seasonal crop market variations. It is an extremely good substitute for tobacco, whose business we expect to decline with time because of anti-smoking campaigns. The plant is easy to grow because it is resistant to plant pests and diseases and grows in a wide range of climates and soils.
There are so many variants of marijuana used for various purposes, ranging from medical, industrial, and recreational uses. Hemp is the common type grown in the country. It is a type of cannabis plant with very low levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol); the intoxicating or psychoactive substance of marijuana. It is mainly grown because of CBD (cannabidiol), which offers great medicinal potential. It is important to note that CBD does not make someone high, unlike THC. People also use hemp for fiber, grain, CBD oil, CBG oil, smokable flower, and more. The Zimbabwe Industrial Hemp Trust is assisting the new farmers with technical and marketing help.
Hemp has an economic value that outweighs that of tobacco, which held the top position in Zimbabwe over the years by a factor of about 3. Prices vary from one country to the other, hence the reason most farmers prefer to export their produce to the most favorable markets. People measure hemp in grams, ounces, pounds, or kilograms.
1 kilogram =1000 grams,
1 pound = 453.592 grams.
1 ounce = 28.3495 grams,
What makes the crop unique is that every portion of the plant is valuable. For instance, hemp flowers had a regional price ranging from US$300Uto US$1500 per pound in 2020, depending on the quality and content of cannabinoid, while hemp oil costs from US$680 to US$1133 per pound. Global price variations are large, for example, the general cost of marijuana ranges from US$453 per pound in Zimbabwe, US$2667per pound in Nigeria, US$3855 per pound in South Africa, US$31025 per pound in Japan to US$49895 per pound in the United Arab Emirates.
Summing up every economic advantage of hemp, there is no doubt that it is the most profitable crop to grow in Zimbabwe. Hemp is the top profitable greenhouse or field crop, the most profitable crop per acre, the best grass to grow even in the shade.