Friday, March 11, 2016

Indiegogo Campaign for Industrial Hemp in Malawi

Hempower Malawi - making Industrial hemp a new cash crop- That is the title of the video accompanying a campaign for industrial hemp in Malawi. The campaign posted by Tanya Clarke, Director and Founder of Invegrow and Kawandama Hills Plantation is raising $50,000 to fund some of the farming inputs, buy small- scale farming and processing equipment, lab equipment for testing, and continue the lobbying and education campaigns.

Tanya says Invegrow has been campaigning for the legalisation of industrial hemp in Malawi since 2013 and it is now the first and only company allowed to conduct trials in Malawi.

This is a pioneering venture and Invegrow finally commenced trials in November 2015 at the Malawi Government's premier Agricultural Research Station. We are also helping amend the relevant Acts with the Government to correctly define iHemp in law. We aim to be growing the crop commercially by December 2016/17 season (rainy season).

According to the information posted on the indiegogo campaign site and the video posted, Invegrow has support from various civil society organisations, government and the private sector. The video features interviews with Joshua Nthakomwa, Director of Malawi Investment and Trade Centre and Parliamentarian Boniface Kadzakumanja, a well known advocate for industrial hemp who supports the campaign.

Industrial Hemp is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant that is non-psychoactive and currently grown in 36 countries worldwide including Canada, Australia, Germany, France, and the UK. It's an incredibly versatile crop that is used in sustainable construction, seed and oil production for cosmetics and foods, medicines, and fibre for textiles. It is an age old crop that was bred specifically for industrial purposes, and was one of the most important crops in World War 2 for its strong fibres used for sails and military uniforms.

For the 13 days that the campaign has been running, it has managed to raise $12,338 out of the $50,000 needed. There are still 23 days to go.

Tanya and the team behind the campaign understands the challenges that their campaign will face to convince the Malawian society on the difference between industrial hemp and the other varieties of cannabis that are psychoactive.

Malawi is a very conservative society and more education must be done through the media, radio, and TV on iHemp and its potential. Distinguishing the differences between the varieties of Cannabis in the minds of the people is a challenge that we hope to overcome through a concerted sensitisation campaign.

Photo Credit: Tanya Clarke's Linkedin and Invegrow Website