Africans are likely to be among the world’s top medical cannabis growers, according to researchers who attended a cannabis technology conference in Cape Town.
An abundance of land, a large labor force and an ideal climate for cannabis cultivation make Africa, and southern Africa in particular, attractive to investors who are interested in exporting high-quality cannabis internationally, according to FarmingPortal.
Experts from New Frontier Data, which specializes in intelligence on the global cannabis industry, say that African countries can cater to international cannabis demand cheaper than global competitors due to the lower cost of labor and cultivation.
“Hemp cultivation, especially given the explosive demand arising from neighboring European nations, presents a unique opportunity to Zimbabwe and other African nations well positioned to meet such demand cheaper, and possibly faster, than current suppliers from Canada and Latin America,” said Giadha Aguirre de Carcer, the CEO of New Frontier Data, according to ITWeb.
Africa is ideally positioned for the global export of cannabis, said Jordan Curl, a cultivation and extraction specialist at Israeli cannabis research and investment firm Ican.
“Africa will become the cannabinoid production center of the world,” Curl predicted while speaking to delegates at the CannaTech conference in Cape Town on Dec. 2.
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The continent offers growers good soil, minimal levels of pollution and many high-quality strains of CBD — one of the most abundant cannabinoids found in hemp.
Africa’s legal cannabis industry could be worth more than $7.1 billion annually by 2023 if legislation is introduced in some of the continent’s major markets, according to research from The African Cannabis Report, the first detailed report on the legal cannabis industry in Africa.
Cannabis remains illegal throughout most of Africa. Lesotho, a small landlocked Southern African country with a population of around 2.2 million people, legalized cannabis in 2017, BBC reported.
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Positive strides are being made in other African countries.
In South Africa, the medicinal use of cannabis is legal and recreational use is in the process of being legalized. Medicinal cannabis farming is also legal in Zimbabwe.
Other African countries including Swaziland, Uganda, and Malawi are considering legalizing cannabis cultivation for medical or export applications.