By PETER SICHALI
DELAYS in actualising the legal cultivation of Marijuana, a high yield income generating crop are denying the country vital income that could effectively contribute to economic development, says former Finance Minister Katele Kalumba.
Dr Kalumba said it was unfortunate that it was almost a year since Government approved the legalisation of marijuana for medicinal and export purposes but nothing seems to have been done in terms of policy formulation.
“Time has gone by too much and the minister of Agriculture and his counterpart at Commerce should explain, where we currently stand because the Treasury needs the money,” Dr Kalumba said.
He said it was time for Government to take the actualisation on the legalisation of marijuana for export and medicinal purposes seriously.
Dr Kalumba said marijuana was an important export product like copper that could bring foreign exchange and contribute to economic growth.
“There has not been any movement on this issues, for practical purposes it was important to understand that marijuana is a high value income generating crop product when produced for export purposes. Most countries have benefited tremendously,“ Dr Kalumba said.
He said there was need for the Ministry of Commerce and Trade to expedite formulation of policy, sign bilateral and multilateral trade agreements that would control the same movement of the product to the market.
“Zambia stands to gain from this important crop and we have available arable land that supports the growth of this product,” Dr Kalumba said.
Dr Kalumba said delays in marijuana policy formulation was a testimony of it’s under estimated value when it can contribute to foreign exchange earnings.
“This issue of marijuana has not come now that the country is struggling with the economy but it is important note that it can also contribute to economic recovery,” Dr Kalumba said.
He said in as much as it is not a solution it can contribute effectively to economic recovery like any other important export like copper.