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Zimbabwean farmers get ‘whiff’ of cannabis boom as President commissions $27m Indian hemp processing plant

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Indian hemp farmers in Zimbabwe are in for a huge financial boost following the commissioning of a $27 million medical cannabis farm and processing plant set up by Swiss Biocieuticals Limited in conjunction with the government.

The state-of-the-art medicinal cannabis processing plant commissioned last by President Emmerson Mnangagwa in the country’s western province of Mount Hampden, is aimed at stimulating bio-medical solutions and pharmaceutical products for both local and international markets.

While commissioning the plant, the President said it was important for “investors to quickly operationalise their permits and licences for the benefit of the economy in general and people in particular, in line with Government’s set national targets and the desire to have an upper middle income economy by 2030.”

The development, Mnangagwa said,
dovetails into his ‘Zimbabwe is Open for Business’ mantra, is expected to enhance foreign currency generation for the country.

“I challenge other players within the medicinal cannabis sub-sector to speedily set up their enterprises, with focus on value addition and beneficiation.

“It is disappointing that since 2018, only 15 out of the 57 entities issued with cannabis operating licences are operational.

“Such licences should not be held for speculative purposes and those not using them risk Government invoking the ‘use-it or lose-it principle’.

“All licences, permits, claims and other such instruments issued to investors must entail that national assets and resources are used for the benefit of our economy and ultimately improving the quality of life of our people,” President Mnangagwa said.

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World Bank approves $500 million loan for Egypt to mitigate wheat shortage

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The World Bank Board of Executive Directors, has approved a USD 500 million loan to Egypt Bank to help finance its wheat purchases as prices skyrocket because of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Egypt’s international cooperation ministry made the announcement on Wednesday revealing that the funds will primarily support the country’s wheat purchases to help the government maintain a strategic reserve and utilize the investments made in raising the country’s grain storage capacity.

statement by the World Bank quoted the minister, Dr. Rania Al-Mashat, the project supports the government’s strong commitment to ensuring that the needs of citizens continue to be met even amid a very challenging global context caused by concomitant crises such as COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine.

“In addition to ensuring sustained food security, this project supports national climate efforts by increasing agricultural resilience.”

Wheat is fundamental to the Egyptian diet, with about 70 per cent of the population relying on subsidised bread to feed their families. The North African country is the world’s top importer of wheat, and has had its supply suffer since Russian invasion of Ukraine disrupted crucial supply from the two major exporting countries.

Russia is the world’s largest wheat exporter and Ukraine is among the top five. Global grain markets are facing turmoil following war between the two European countries with the two countries accounting for about 30 percent of the world’s wheat supply.

Egypt’s Prime Minister, Mostafa Madbouly, announced in March that the country will diversify its sources of wheat to avoid relying on what he described as “specific sources” for this product.

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AfDB to sponsor Rwanda’s African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation

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The African Development Bank (AfDB) says it will be sponsoring Rwanda’s venture to host the new African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation.

The venture is expected boost the continent’s access to technology in manufacturing medicines and vaccines.

AfDB President Dr Akinwumi Adesina said the project includes “revamping Africa’s pharmaceutical industry, building Africa’s vaccine manufacturing capacity, and building Africa’s quality healthcare infrastructure.

“Even with the decision of the Trips waiver at the World Trade Organization (WTO), millions are dying -and will most likely continue to die – from lack of vaccines and effective protection,” Dr Adesina said.

Meanwhile the venture has drawn commendation from players. The Director-General of the World Trade Organization, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, remarked that the project “provides part of the infrastructure needed to assure an emergent pharmaceutical industry in Africa.”

Africa is short of pharmaceutical companies that fits its population size. The continent is currently home to about 375 pharmaceutical firms, which produce less than 25 percent of the needed products annually, forcing the countries to import vastly to meet demand.

This dependence on imports leaves citizens vulnerable to shortages of medication — a problem that triggered a continent-wide crisis during the pandemic.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, small pharmacies and large medical stores in Rwanda ran out of stock. In South Africa, it became nearly impossible to fill prescriptions for psychiatric drugs and oral contraceptives. In Kenya, oncologists complained about challenges treating their cancer patients. And in Nigeria, stocks of treatments to manage chronic illnesses, including HIV medicines, dipped critically low.

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