Malawi’s efforts to start exporting Cannabis have suffered a heavy blow following the Ethiopian authorities’ stance to refuse passage of the product on its aircraft and through its territory.
Last month, Addis Ababa seized local industrial hemp producer, Invegrow Limited’s first consignment to Europe.
Confirming the situation, Invegrow’s Director, Nebert Nyirenda, explained that the Ethiopian authorities did not give any reason for the ban.
“We were hit by another snag which had nothing to do with us here but our transiting route, the government of Ethiopian had intervened and instructed their national airline Ethiopia not to carry Cannabis via Addis Ababa so that was our challenge,” Nyirenda said
International air freight arrangements had it that for the product to reach European markets, it had to pass through the east African nations using Ethiopian Airlines.
“They didn’t talk to us directly but we got information from Ethiopian (Airlines) that they have been halted from handling Cannabis not just from Malawi, but from anywhere else we are hear there are consignment of Cannabis from other countries in East Africa that were also seized.
“We did report to government and the ministry of foreign affairs is handling that and we hope with that government to government contact the reasons will be disclosed but as of now they didn’t disclose the reason,” he added.
Meanwhile, Nyirenda said negotiations to change the route have since commenced with South Africa now becoming the main option.
If the option materialises, either Malawian Airlines or South African Airways will be carrying the products via the rainbow-nation in transit to European destinations.
However, such fresh arrangements are likely to take time before the actual exports commences, because the exporters need to find new handling agents in South Africa.
“We haven’t tested the route yet but we also have to identify the a handling agent in South Africa so those business to business arrangements take time because we have to talk to them, screen them and reach an understanding as to whether they will be indeed have the capacity to handle our consignments on time,” Nyirenda added.
Government officials are yet to comment on the matter but Finance Minister Sosten Gwengwe emphasized efforts to encourage exports through strengthening ministry of trade reforms that aims at ensuring that all products are exported through structured processes among others.
Invegrow has secured markets for its Cannabis products in various European countries like Germany, Switzerland, Czech Republic and Poland among others.
It was planned that the firm would start exports with 3 tones per consignment during the first months before scaling up depending on logistical situation.