Africa, Farming, Regulatory

Malawi growers threaten legal action over delayed licenses

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A group of industrial hemp growers in Malawi are threatening the government with legal action for failure to issue hemp licences. The farmers, mostly from Mzimba in northern Malawi, say they have invested more than $1.5 million in preparation for hemp farming.

“We are extremely concerned as farmers because we have invested a lot into this venture. We had all the trust in our government that they would fulfill what was promised because it is about the country’s economy and the economy of individuals,” William Mumba of hemp company M’mbelwa Investment Ltd. said of the licensing delays.

‘Unfortunate’

“It’s very unfortunate that government does not seem to be concerned and this is where we think we might consider mobilizing ourselves to force government to refund the money,” said Mumba. “This would certainly help to boost the economy of the country.”

Farmer Martin Kumwenda wondered why an initiative conceived by government itself was also being hindered by the government.

“We were asked by the same government to get organized to grow cannabis. We underwent trainings, paid license fees and got down to prepare land. We are very concerned that government does not mind the time frame that was agreed upon,” Kumwenda said.

Hopes for hemp

Proponents in Malawi have said hemp alone has the potential to surpass earnings from tobacco, the country’s main export crop. “This would certainly help to boost the economy of the country,” Mumba said.

Malawi’s Parliament approved the Cannabis Regulation Bill in March 2020, legalizing the cultivation, processing and marketing of industrial hemp, and setting the allowable THC level at a full 1.0%. The bill was widely backed by legislators who hope it will spur economic growth in the country.

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