Nqobile Tshili, Business Reporter
VOEDSEL Cannabis, one of the 57 companies issued with licences to grow and process industrial cannabis on a commercial scale says it has started producing Cannabidiol (CBD oil)from its pilot plant.
From planting four hectares in its trial plant in 2020 in Shamva, Mashonaland Central, the company has increased cannabis crop production to 30 hectares and has now embarked on value addition.
Project manager, Mr Joseph Serima, said they were using both greenhouse and outdoor approaches to plant their medical cannabis crop.
“In our first trial crop in 2020 we planted four hectares outdoors for the industrial hemp, from which we extracted CBD oil and we had 3 000m2 for the medical cannabis in greenhouses,” he said.
“This year we did more than 30 hectares for the industrial hemp plant. We, however, did not put any plant in the greenhouse this time as we have to meet certain specifications that are required.
“CBD is used for medicinal purposes, it is used for curing pain, arthritis, heart problems, BP and if you are addicted to alcohol, it reduces that addiction as well,” said Mr Serima.
“You can use it even when you want to lose weight. There are 20 benefits of the CBD oil and we are now producing it.
At the moment we have been targeting foreign markets but there is exploitation in the market. We want to build value so that we fetch a good price.”
Mr Serima was speaking on the sidelines of the recent goat industry conference that was held at the Zimbabwe International Exhibition Centre in Bulawayo.
He said there was a need for locals to innovate as opposed to exporting raw materials, which are processed only to be sold back at a higher price.
“This means encouraging innovation among ourselves. We are just primary producers at the moment and exporting everything so it is affecting our development,” said Mr Serima.
“We export the primary produce and we import final products, which we buy expensively yet we would have produced the primary produce.
“We are still conceptualising the idea of value addition; we have been penetrating the external markets but there are challenges that we have been experiencing like certification that is required.
“It’s more costly and we are looking forward to promoting this industry locally because it’s a multi-billion-dollar industry. It’s a lucrative industry with many uses.”
Mr Serima said they were inspired by President Mnangagwa’s drive to have the country embrace modern innovation and technology saying all producers must take heed of that.
“Innovation is a very important step for developing our economy and that innovation comes through co-operation.
You can’t produce something new when you are operating in isolation,” he said.
Mr Serima said they were keen to partner with various local stakeholders who can use some of the raw materials from industrial hemp.
He said this was why they decided to participate at the goat industry conference in Bulawayo to engage over possible linkages with other farmers in different sectors considering that cannabis is a multi-purpose plant.
“This hemp could be an ingredient in the production of stockfeed for goats and we want to see if we could produce vaccines that can be used in the sector,” said Mr Serima.
“There is that stamp, which is being thrown away and we can utilise that for other purposes as opposed to just collecting the seeds. We want to maximise processing and we want to see how best we can be integrated to support the goat industry,” he said. — @nqotshili