Industrial Crop Association excited with certificates awarded to first cannabis producers

The Industrial Crops Association (ICA) has expressed excitement with the awarding of certificates to first cannabis producers in Malawi.

Recently, the Cannabis Regulatory Authority (CRA) granted licenses to 35 entities, a development ICA thinks is a great milestone in the history of agriculture in Malawi and presents a new chapter for farmers of the crop and other agro-based industries within the value chain.

“ICA wishes to congratulate organizations that were granted licenses for the cultivation and processing of Legal cannabis. We cannot allow this moment to pass without acknowledging and applauding all individuals and companies that have worked so hard for many years to make this a reality as the journey was long, challenging and at times discouraging,” said ICA executive official Clement Masangano in an interview with Nyasa Times on Monday.

Malawi is making steady progress to replacing tobacco

However, Masangano admitted in an interview with Nyasa Times on Monday that with this accomplishment, expectations from the industry are high due to the hype and emotion that have always accompanied cannabis cultivation in Malawi.

He said the association anticipates that the cultivation of cannabis will translate into both macro and micro multiplier economic gains for the nation as the country expects to create more jobs and income at all levels.

Masangano added that the government stands to benefit from revenue generated at various stages as license fees and taxes.

“Currently, tobacco, which has historically been the country’s primary cash crop, is facing a massive global anti-smoking campaign, which has inevitably affected demand for the crop thus reducing foreign exchange earnings for the country. Cannabis provides hope as a crop that should complement tobacco in the short to long term,” he said.

“From agronomic point of view, there are expectations as well. Cannabis is a wonder crop with a wide range of downstream products and applications. Every part of the plant from flowers, stems, seeds can be a focus for production and various products can be extracted to fit specific needs. This in itself presents a huge opportunity for the country to industrialize and add value to cannabis products. Cannabis is known to be an ideal crop that fits well in rotational systems and can be combined with other crops to strengthen the soil systems and help augment good soil characteristics which have been lost through years of monoculture,” he added.

But Masangano was quick to point out that several aspects need to be considered if Malawi is to safeguard the expected benefits.

He said as a novel crop with a regulatory framework in its infancy, there is a need to strengthen the regulatory capacity and awareness of the regulatory processes as well as government research and extension systems to better enable them to reach out to Malawians at the grassroots, to capacitate and build up smallholder farmers into competent and capable participants in the cannabis value chains.

He also observed that legal cannabis is morphologically similar to the illegal cannabis and this fact can be exploited in a manner that may tarnish the image of an industry that is in its formative stages.

Masangano stressed that such practices need to be strictly monitored and clamped down on to avoid jeopardizing access to the most lucrative markets, which often have very stringent regulatory requirements.

He recommended that for those with interest in cannabis, caution must be taken to ensure that investment decisions are made on the basis of accurate and reliable sources of information.

ICA was established in 2014 to act as a voice and partner for information gathering, research, education and lobbying in the field of legal cannabis.

The association brings together pioneers and industry leaders and has been instrumental in the establishment and advancement of the local cannabis industry.

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