Govt Offers Mbanje Growers 100% Farm Ownership

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By Robert Tapfumaneyi

THE Health Ministry has announced that all local and foreign investors venturing into the production of cannabis (mbanje) will be offered 100% ownership of their farms and licences to improve competitiveness.

In 2018, the Zimbabwean government approved the production of cannabis for medicinal purposes.

Last year, it announced that 37 local and private investors had shown interest in cannabis farming.

In a letter addressed to cannabis licencees by Health Minister Obadiah Moyo, the offer is with immediate effect.

“Following Cabinet decision and high-level meeting, a policy change enabling investors to hold 100% ownership of Medicinal Cannabis licences was made in order to improve the competitiveness of the sector both regionally and globally,” Moyo said.

“At the same meeting, it was also agreed that investors had the option to utilise private land for cannabis project.

“In order to regularise the policy changes a draft Investment Stabilisation agreement is being reviewed by the Attorney General’s office. The finalisation has been delayed somewhat due to the focus in controlling the global Covid-19 pandemic.”

One company, Alternative Health Oils (AHO), a joint venture between the government and a private firm has seen the State ceding its 40% to the former.

Government directors seconded to AHO board have also been ordered to resign with immediate effect leaving the private firm in total control of the entity.

“Having noted the need for pragmatism in this matter, Alternative Health Oils (AHO), a government company which is being administratively managed by the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MOHCC), will initiate the termination of Joint Venture Agreements, ceding 40% ownership and the resignation of AHO directors from the Special Purpose Vehicles (SPV) with immediate effect.

“On the completion of the processes amendment of the licence would be required.”

An Investor for cannabis farming will be issued with a five-year renewal licence.

Previously, production and possession of the drug was illegal and attracted a sentence of up to 12 years.

However, the recreational use or possession of the drug remains illegal.