Botswana misses out on the HEMP wave

17 Jun 2019

BY VICTOR BAATWENG

Atleast 13 African nations, five from southern Africa – Lesotho, Eswatini, Malawi, Zimbabwe and South Africa have caught up with the rest of the world in the list of countries that have ended the longstanding prohibition of the production of Cannabis and HEMP.

As it stands, the hype around industrial hemp is at a fever pitch and is expected to open up new opportunities for growers across the globe and in related industries. Botswana has however not yet caught the fever yet, except a few sideline talks.

“Not only is HEMP a potential low tech, high profit margin, new crop to invigorate African economies; it could also support United Nations’ current Sustainable Development Goals such as fostering regional inclusive economic growth and creating sustainable jobs,” said New Frontier Data Founder and CEO Giadha Aguirre de Carcer.

New Frontier Data recently released its latest report, the Africa Regional Hemp and Cannabis Report: 2019 Industry Outlook which discusses cannabis’ impact on Africa’s economic growth.

According to the 2019 report over 50 countries around the world have legalized some form of cannabis for medical use, and seven — Canada, Georgia, Guam, Mexico, the Northern Mariana Islands, South Africa, and Uruguay—have legalised it for personal or recreational use.

The report further stated that legalisation in Africa is not necessarily a foregone conclusion, but stakeholders and observers should expect fast-moving developments across the continent.

“Governments need to act quickly to decide whether they will participate in the fast-growing global cannabis industry, and (if so) which types of industries to build’, reads part of the report.

New Frontier Data estimates the value of the combined legal and illicit markets for cannabis in Africa at $37.30 billion USD, with a range falling between $18.99 billion and $63.70 billion.

POTENTIAL BENEFITS

The New Frontier Data report stated that there are many ways in which a thought fully constructed, effectively administered cannabis and/or hemp industry can positively affect economic growth, revenue, health, and social outcomes.

“Cannabis offers an avenue to create jobs and address poverty. While many impoverished workers lack the skills and opportunity to increase their standards of living, cannabis cultivation can provide many jobs to low-skilled workers, including in roles related to cultivation and biomass processing”, reads part of the report.

Duma Boko - a Member of Parliament for Gaborone Bonnington North also shares the sentiments.

“When I told people that hemp could contribute significantly to job creation, I got ridiculed. Canada is receiving multi-billion dollar investments in hemp that it will in part export to the US. The industrialised world is taking advantage of the possibilities presented by hemp. Even our neighbours within SADC see the opportunities presented by hemp and are at least taking regulatory steps to prepare themselves”, Boko said in November 2019 when responding to the 2019 national budget speech.

He also recently told his party – Umbrella for Democratic Change followers at the manifesto launch in Maun that  is holding billions of pula in industrial hemp investment that, he says, will create over 100 000 jobs within a single year.

Meanwhile the report further stated that despite Africa’s fertile soil, crop yields in many parts of the continent are far below potential. Low yields are attributable to many causes, including agricultural mismanagement, civil unrest, and lack of access to credit. The report shows that Africa averages the largest gaps between actual and potential harvest yields among any region globally.