Chiredzi — ZIMBABWE has approved the first project for the farming and processing of cannabis, a development that is set to earn the country billions in foreign currency.
The project is to begin at the Zimbabwe Prisons and Correctional Services' Buffalo Range prison in Chiredzi, southeast of the country.
This follows the government's enactment of Statutory Instrument 62 of 2018 (SI 62/2018) or the Dangerous Drugs- Production of Cannabis for Medicinal and Scientific Research Regulations.
The Statutory Instrument was later transformed to SI 178/2018 which gave birth to the reduction of application fee for a licence to grow cannabis from $50 000 to $10 000.
The same law allows Robert Mugabe International Airport as the only port of entry of cannabis products.
Work is in progress in Chiredzi to start farming of the psychoactive plant, which government intends to use for medicinal and scientific research after a Harare based company Ivory Medical was authorised to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment for the project.
The company is in partnership with NSK Holdings & International Investors as funders, Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, and a Portuguese company, Symtomax, which provides technical and farming techniques.
Ivory Medical has proposed and secured a 10-hectare piece of land at Buffalo Range Prison because of high security needed to do the project.
The company, through its business vehicle, Pamberi Qubhekhani Investments, is in the process of finalising documents for an offer letter to lease 80 hectares of land at the remaining extension of Buffalo Range.
Peter Mugodhi, Chiredzi District Environmental Management Agency manager, confirmed his office had received the documents.
"Although it is a very sensitive project, which seems to be the first of its kind in Chiredzi and Masvingo Province as a whole, we need thorough consultations involving all stakeholders. I am happy that the consultant is in agreement to this," Mugodhi exclusively told CAJ News.
Elizabeth Bakasa, the project consultant, also confirmed consultations were in progress.
"We have a document at EMA offices and I have since issued some stakeholders and residents with questionnaires as a broader way of our consultations," she said
Zimbabwe is the latest country in Africa to legalise cannabis after Lesotho and South Africa.
Canada, China, Colombia and India also grow the plant for medicines and scientific research purposes.
Cannabis his said to have 483 known medicinal compounds and 65 other chemicals that can be used to fight cancer and other diseases.
It can be smoked, vaporized and taken within food or as extracts.
It is envisaged that Zimbabwe will get foreign currency worth $7 billion by 2023 from sales of cannabis products.
Ivory Medical intends to extract cannabis oil from the plant with a vision to be the world class end to end medical cannabis oil producer operating from Zimbabwe, according to its website.