The United States Cannabis Association (USCA) Malawi is training 87 young graduates from various institutions of higher learning, who will help build the capacity of USCA smallholder farmer cooperatives in the new value chain of cannabis production.
USCA Malawi reportedly advocates for the growth of a responsible and legitimate cannabis industry in the country.
The association’s Chief Executive Officer, Wezi Ngalamira, told journalists on Monday that the four-day training, which began on Sunday at Lake Malawi Anglican University in Lilongwe, has brought together graduates from Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Mwimba Institute of Agriculture and University of Malawi, among other institutions.
Ngalamira said each graduate intern, after being trained on growing of cannabis, will be attached to a USCA farmer cooperative, where there is a fully fledged automated greenhouse, solar panel, borehole and water tank, among other necessary facilities and technologies.
“After we train them, theoretically and practically, we will deploy them to our cooperatives to train farmers for 16 weeks so they are able to handle those facilities and technologies in order to produce the best crop for their own benefit and national development. So we want the interns to be well equipped for the task,” Ngalamira said.
In his remarks, one of the interns, Daniel Mbaya, commended USCA for organizing the training, saying it will equip him, as an agriculturalist, with additional information in the management of the agriculture field, especially the new value chain of cannabis production.
“Being a new crop, there is less information about it. A lot of farmers are not aware of the production requirements. So this training is vital, for the additional information will assist us in making farmers produce the best crop,” Mbaya said.
Cannabis production is bringing hope in the economy of Malawi and there are high expectations that it will complement tobacco, which is the country’s main source of foreign exchange.
A recent analysis by Invegrow Limited, one of the firms that conducted research on industrial hemp, found that a kilogram of industrial hemp could fetch about MK32 000 and that there is potential for direct annual benefit to Malawians in excess of K3 billion on 16.5 hectares or K195 million per five hectares.
The analysis further indicated that the crop has ready markets whose global value chain is worth about $9 billion (about K6. 6 trillion), giving local investors a basis to take up cannabis production.