President commissions Swiss medicinal cannabis farm and processing plant

By Justin Mahlahla

President Emmerson Mnangagwa has hailed the continued investments from the Swiss Federation as a demonstration of strong ties between Zimbabwe and Switzerland.

He was speaking during the commissioning ceremony of a US$27 million Swiss Bioceuticals Limited Medicinal Cannabis Farm and Processing Plant in Mount Hampden, Mashonaland West Province.

“I extend my profound congratulations to the Swiss Biocieuticals Limited for this timely investment in the medicinal cannabis farm, processing plant and value chain, worth US$27 million.

“This milestone is testimony of the successes of my Government’s Engagement and Re-engagement Policy. It further demonstrates the confidence that Swiss companies have in our economy through their continued investment in Zimbabwe. To date, investments, support and partnerships from entities linked to the Swiss Confederation (Switzerland), span across sectors such as agriculture, cement manufacturing, agriculture value chain industries and food processing as well as in spheres such as governance, institutional building and the preservation of the country’s cultural heritage,” said President Mnangagwa.

He added, “Leveraging on the Swiss – Zimbabwe Business Chamber launched in 2021, I urge all stakeholders to scale up efforts to see more investment and trade between businesses of the two countries. As Government, we recognise that Switzerland is one of the leading European investors and we are ready to receive more investments from that country.”

I applaud the Swiss Bioceuticals Limited for the commitment, hard work and professional manner in which it has successfully and speedily carried out this project.

He commended the investor for speedily executing its operations from the time it got its operating licence.

“Since the granting of the licence to produce medical cannabis and permit to operate in 2020 and 2021, respectively, five hectares of land for the production of medicinal cannabis have been established under greenhouses. I exhort the company to accelerate its plans to increase the hectarage to 15 by the end of this year, towards the realisation of the target of 50 hectares by 2023.”

He said the construction of the state-of-the-art medicinal cannabis processing plant, fitted with the first line of medicinal cannabis oil processing, is commendable and is in line with the Second Republic’s thrust of value addition.

“The establishment of a six-line medicinal cannabis oil processing plant is commendable and is set to stimulate the production of other bio-medical solutions and pharmaceutical products for both the local and international markets. To this end, it is my expectation that the company will create mutually beneficial synergies with our institutions of higher learning towards broadening our country’s bio-medical skills base, research and development initiatives.”

The President however expressed disappointment with companies issued with operating licences in 2018, but are yet to utilise them.

“Meanwhile, 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 utilised for the benefit of our economy and ultimately improving the quality of life for our people. I want to congratulate Swiss Bioceuticals for creating employment for locals, of a varying skills base, with the processing plant being run by qualified Zimbabweans.”

He said Government remains determined to continually improve the ease and cost of doing business environment in t countryand the ongoing economic reforms have resulted in notable economic growth.