FOR the first time in the history of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF), cannabis is on show.
Voedel Cannabis is already one of the most popular stands at the 61st edition of the ZITF not only for the cannabis, but also related products.
For long it has been illegal to be found in possession of weed in Zimbabwe and remains so for most citizens. But there is an international revolution on medicinal and industrial cannabis and the country also wants to enjoy the global cake.
Government recently licensed 57 companies to cultivate and process medical cannabis and the licensing does not come cheap.
It costs US$50 000 to get a cannabis crop production licence and industry players believe while it may be difficult to enter the sector, those in it reap benefits in no time.
Voedel is a Dutch word for nourishment and Voedel Cannabis believes it is in the process of nourishing the country with foreign currency from cannabis crop production and exports.
The company is operating from Shamva, Mashonaland East, and has managed to plant at least 4 hectares.
Voedel Cannabis project manager Mr Joseph Serima said the organisation is optimistic over the future of the new sector.
“We operate from Shamva and last year, we only did four hectares outdoors, we have 3 000m2 we did in the green houses on trial basis. For industrial purposes, we can grow it outdoors but for medicinal purposes it has to be done within a controlled environment hence the greenhouse,” said Mr Serima.
“There are general specifics that need to be followed in growing cannabis, you need to follow good agricultural practices, because the buyer needs to know how you produced the crop. If you follow good agricultural practices, it is not difficult to produce a good quality product.”
He said the company is in the process of marketing its product and is mainly targeting the European market where usage is widespread.
Mr Serima said exhibiting at the biggest trade showcase for the first time is part of the company’s thrust to position their brand.
Voedel Cannabis business development director Mr Sydney Siriro said cannabis will soon be one of the country’s foreign currency earners.
“The name of the company is derived from the Dutch word for food nourishment. We gave the company such a name because it is giving nourishment to the Zimbabwe economy through foreign currency generation. We are growing cannabis as a way of bringing in foreign currency into the Zimbabwean economy,” said Mr Siriro.
“We are in our second year of operation and we have trials in the growing of industrial hemp whose flower you can see here. It is of health benefits in terms of body relaxation. It is used by making oil and oils can also be made edible.
In Zimbabwe it is not yet legal to make these edibles, Zimbabwe license laws stipulate that it is grown specifically for export, into nations that allow the use of medicinal and industrial hemp. For example, in South Africa you can use your edibles, most European countries use cannabis and cannabis products.”
He described cannabis as a multi-purpose plant that can be used to make clothing, stock feed, furniture among other things.
“The fibre is used for various things, the leaves are used for making cattle feed; cannabis is a very high protein plant.
We are doing trials for making stock feed for cattle in Zimbabwe. The bark and the stock can be used for making fibre for clothes, fibre for building materials because it is very strong, and it is biodegradable. With the way things and technologies are going these days, they are moving towards biodegradable materials, plastics and this is where we are going with the industry,” he said.
“So, in Zimbabwe what we are doing at the moment is that we have the plant but we don’t have the machinery to convert the plant into biodegradable items that are used worldwide. Building bricks can be made from the fibre, clothing material can be made, it will be as soft as cotton. We also have paper, which can also be made from this. The medicinal part is for body relaxation.” — @nqotshili.