May 19, 2021

African Nations Pivot to Cannabis as Tobacco Demand Declines

May 19, 2021
Some African nations are looking to cannabis to replace declining tobacco revenues.

As global demand for tobacco decreases, some African nations are looking to diversify into cannabis in order to fill the economic gaps caused by shrinking tobacco sales. 

The government of Malawi previously cited tobacco as its number one most productive crop, but market conditions are compelling them to make this pivot. Although still illegal for recreational use, marijuana was legalized in Malawi for both medical and industrial purposes in 2020, clearing a path for profitable marijuana production. Tobacco, for its part, is looking to earn less than $200 million in 2021. This decline is unsurprising, as public health experts the world over have condemned tobacco as a dangerous, carcinogenic product.

The President of Malawi, Lazarus Chakwera, had this to say: “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.”

Zimbabwe Looks to Cannabis

Malawi is by no means the only African nation turning to weed as a potential source of profit. Zimbabwe, unlike Malawi, has already begun its cultivation journey, and sales are paying real dividends. 

Bloomberg has stated that Zimbabwean cannabis sales have officially outpaced tobacco and have now reached an estimated 1.25 billion in projected sales. In an unusual move for Zimbabwe, the government has removed a regulation that had forced cooperative ownership of marijuana crops between private industry and the government, presumably hoping to bolster private production of the lucrative crop. They will also allow cannabis sellers to keep their earnings in foreign money for a duration of 2-4 years, a surprising decision for foreign currency starved Zimbabwe. 

Besides Malawi and Zimbabwe, further attempts to liberalize marijuana production are being undertaken in the nations of Zambia and Lesotho. 

Additional Resources:

At The Weed Blog, we strive to produce the latest online news resources regarding marijuana. We also review various strains of cannabis or other edible counterparts. We are committed to helping you find valuable information about marijuana on our website. With marijuana laws constantly changing, learn from us what you can do to promote activism in your area. Otherwise, consider these other top-tier articles regarding cannabis:

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