German agric firm gets licence to grow cannabis in Zimbabwe

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Amatheon Agri, a German agribusiness listed on Europe’s Euronext stock exchange, has secured a licence to grow medicinal cannabis in Zimbabwe.

The government awarded Amatheon a renewable five-year licence, the company’s CEO said.

“This approval lays the foundation for Amatheon Agri’s entry into a highly lucrative future industry,” says Founder and CEO of Amatheon Agri Holding, Carl Heinrich Bruhn. “With the license in hand, we can now start planning a scalable project that will significantly support our business growth in this specialised market.”

The company says it will now enter a detailed planning phase during which it will identify the site, variety and protocols required for production. Amatheon Agri is already involved in other crops, and says the cannabis licence helps it diversify its export portfolio and “spearhead its entry into the specialty products market”.

The country is looking to expand investment into cannabis, and in May announced a range of tax breaks and incentives. Over 50 companies have been licenced so far.

Under regulations agreed between growers and the Zimbabwe Investment and Development Agency (ZIDA), cannabis investors can now own 100% of their operations. Previously, they were compelled to have joint ventures with locals.

Cannabis growers can also keep 100% of their foreign currency earnings for two years when they export unprocessed product. They can keep all their earnings for four years for processed exports. ZIDA also drew up investment agreements that protect investors from expropriation and law changes, ZIDA CEO Douglas Munatsi said.

Cannabis producers can also now choose where they want to grow; old regulations allowed the government to determine the locations of operations.

“Despite its economic challenges, we are strong believers in Zimbabwe’s future and it remains a priority in our strategic outlook,” says Amatheon’s Bruhn. “Its variety of landscapes, ideal climatic conditions, abundant water supply, long hours of sunlight and talented labour market makes the country well poised for our new investment.”

Amatheon already grows and processes other crops in Zambia and Uganda.

The global market for medicinal cannabis was estimated at US$ 21.3 billion in 2020, with expected global sales of US$55.9 billion in 2026, according to US market research firm BDSA.  

In addition to medical uses, current trends include producing edible products with cannabis, coupled with an increasing amount of it being used as a functional food with claimed health benefits as well as usage in the cosmetics industry.

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