African Nations Pivot to Cannabis as Tobacco Demand Declines

African nations including Malawi and Zimbabwe are looking to diversify their agricultural programs with cannabis as worldwide demand for tobacco diminishes.

Full story after the jump.

Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera said the nation needed to “diversify and grow other crops like cannabis” instead of tobacco, which he described as in “declining demand worldwide,” Reuters reports.

Tobacco is the “largest single crop contributor” to the nation’s gross domestic product, Chakwera said during his state of the nation speech. Cannabis was legalized for industrial and medical use in Malawi last year.

“I have directed (the) Ministry of Agriculture to begin a radical search for a basket of alternative crops so that by 2030, Malawi can do away with its reliance on tobacco, except in limited cases where there are pre-agreed quotas.” – Chakwera during his state of the nation speech via Reuters

On Wednesday another African nation, Zimbabwe, said it expected cannabis export earnings outpacing those of tobacco this year with an anticipated $1.25 billion in sales, according to a Bloomberg report.

The forecast by Zimbabwean officials comes as the nation abolished a rule requiring co-ownership between government and private investors in the cultivation of cannabis for medicinal use, as officials seek to encourage the cultivation of what the country sees becoming the biggest cash crop.

The agreement also allows investors to keep all their U.S. dollar proceeds from cannabis exports for two to four years, depending on whether the exported product processed or raw. Under the current regime, exporters are only allowed to retain 60% of their foreign exchange earnings due to chronic shortages.

Other nations in Africa that have passed cannabis law reforms include Zambia and Lesotho.

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