Looking for to bolster income and exports, Zimbabwe will repeal its laws that prohibit the production of cannabis.

The announcement came Tuesday from the country’s Information and facts Minister Monica Mutsvangwa, who mentioned that the reform will permit farmers to develop industrial hemp to export. Eventually, the aim is for hemp to replace tobacco as the southern Africa nation’s top crop export.

With worldwide tobacco sales slumping from decades of wellness campaigns and the current rise of vaping products—combined with the worldwide rollbacks on prohibitions against cannabis and hemp—the alter to the laws is a signal that Zimbabwe is hunting toward the future.

Mutsvangwa told members of the press gathered in the capital city of Harare, as quoted by Bloomberg, that “the crop can be a great substitute to the top export crop, tobacco, which is at threat of becoming banned globally.”

Zimbabwe is mired in one particular of the deepest financial crises the nation has noticed in decades, with staggering inflation on meals and devastating drought leaving millions hungry. A report from the United Nations final month located that extra than a third of households in rural Zimbabwe—amounting to about three.five million people—are “dangerously meals insecure.”

By early 2020, the report mentioned, 59 % of rural households, or extra than five.five million individuals, will be meals insecure.

That crisis has coincided with Zimbabwe’s rollback of anti- cannabis laws, as the money-strapped and conservative nation continues to reconsider its prohibition. In the spring of final year, Zimbabwe became only the second African nation to legalize marijuana for health-related purposes (Lesotho, the tiny landlocked nation encircled by South Africa, became the initially in 2017). But government officials continue to perform out regulatory barriers.

Final year, only a month immediately after announcing the new law on health-related cannabis, Zimbabwe hit the brakes on its implementation as it worked to comply with a quantity of United Nations treaties.

Mutsvangwa told reporters on Tuesday that health-related marijuana “will take a lengthy time to set up structures.”

In March, Zimbabwe authorized the initially license for a private cannabis organization, Precision Cannabis Therapeutics Zimbabwe, to create health-related marijuana beneath the country’s new law. As of February, the Zimbabwe government had reportedly received applications from 37 firms to create cannabis, a quantity it hopes will only develop.

“The government of Zimbabwe is open for company and welcomes investors in all sectors of the economy, which includes licensing for the production of health-related cannabis,” mentioned Nathan Emery, the chief operating officer of Precision Cannabis Therapeutics Zimbabwe.