Researchers at Chitedze Research Station in Lilongwe have completed the final round of industrial hemp trials pending a final decision by experts, Business News has learnt.
Industrial hemp is cultivated for industrial purposes and contains low amounts of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a substance that makes people ‘high’, when smoked.
The crop can be used to produce clothes, food, paper, textiles, plastics, insulation and bio-fuel.
Chitedze Research Station officer-in-charge Laurent Pungulani said findings are expected to be presented to experts in December this year.
He said: “The next step will be determined based on the final decision from the experts. If it proves to be positive, then subsequent procedures will have to be put in place even if changing some legalities for the crop to be grown.”
Parliament gave a go-ahead for the trials to be conducted in 2015 and Ministry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development and Invegrow Limited are at the centre of the study.
In a questionnaire response on Monday, Invegrow director and founder Tanya Clarke agreed with Pungulani that they have completed the formal level of trials as required by government.
She said they are compiling reports to be submitted to government authorities before being presented to Parliament.
“We have proposed some legislative amendments to allow for the cultivation of industrial hemp and definition must be inserted in a few existing acts which will allow this,” she said.
Clarke said the trials have been successful and the company has produced some products on a small-scale from industrial hemp, including hemp seed oil, essential oils, protein powder and paper. n