Cannabis can boost agriculture in Africa – report

Cannabis can boost agriculture in Africa - report
A new report has suggested that Africa’s agricultural sector could be revitalised by hemp and cannabis production.
Photo: James St. John, flickr

The cannabis market in Africa is estimated to be worth around US$37,3 billion (about R545 billion), which is 11% of the total global market for the product.

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According to the latest report by US-based New Frontier Data, Africa’s annual cannabis-use rate has been nearly twice the global average-use rate of 6% since Lesotho became the first African country to legalise medical cannabis in 2017.

The data and analytics company released the report at the InterCannAlliance Africa Symposium, which focused on hemp and cannabis production, held in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe last month.

The report said hemp production had the potential to reinvigorate agricultural industries on the continent because of the high profit margins that could be realised by the crop, along with ease of production.

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“Demand for cannabidiol (CBD) products continues to surge across Europe, and many [countries] including Canada, which now imports from Colombia to help meet this growing demand, are looking to capitalise on it. It will be interesting to see if Africa’s proximity to the ‘old continent’ and its many agro-based economies may be better positioned to provide a more cost-effective supply,” New Frontier Data founder and chief executive, Giadha Aguirre de Carcer, said in the report.

“Not only is hemp a potential low-tech, high profit margin new crop to invigorate African economies, it could also support the UN’s current Sustainable Development Goals such as fostering regional inclusive economic growth and creating sustainable jobs.”

Covering 13 African nations with a combined population of 565,4 million people, the report said nearly 42,8 million people in these countries used cannabis at least once a year.

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It added that the top cannabis market in Africa was Nigeria (R214 billion) followed by Ethiopia (R137 billion). More than 50 countries worldwide had legalised some form of cannabis for medicinal use, while six, including South Africa, Canada, Uruguay, Guam, Georgia and the Northern Mariana Islands, had legalised cannabis for personal or recreational use.

The report estimated that about 260 million adults worldwide consumed cannabis at least once a year, spending US$344 billion (R4,8 trillion) collectively per annum.

Since much of the world had not yet legalised cannabis use, most of the demand was on illicit or unregulated markets.

Asia, accounting for 39% of global sales valued at R1,8 trillion, was the world’s largest market. North America was second at 25%, worth R1,1 trillion, while Europe was third at 20%, worth R959 billion. Africa was fourth at 11%, worth R522 billion.

Latin America, Oceania and the Caribbean were fifth, sixth and seventh respectively.

“The large number of cannabis consumers globally, coupled with the growing evidence of the plant’s therapeutic value and industrial potential, is transforming attitudes toward cannabis and rapidly driving reform,” the report added.

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