17:19 GMT19 October 2020
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    The Rwanda Development Board said the country could make $10 million per hectare by cultivating the narcotic, which is now used for medicinal purposes, creating much-needed jobs and forex revenue during the coronavirus pandemic.

    Rwanda is considering cannabis as a new export crop for the pharmaceutical market in Europe and the USA.

    The Rwanda Development Board (RDB) revealed this week that it is negotiating with drug companies from the developed world to supply the market for medicinal use, even though the narcotic remains illegal in the East African country.

    "We have been in talks with four different companies so we will start with those applications," RDB chief executive Clare Akamanzi told Reuters on Wednseday, declining to name the firms.

    Akamanzi said the government had realised that the country could potentially make $10 million per hectare from the crop - far higher than earnings from traditional exports like coffee and tea.

    The Rwandan economy and state revenue have been hit hard by the global coronavirus pandemic.

    "The sector to generate significant export revenues and employment opportunities in high value agriculture and agro-processing," an RDB statement said on Tuesday, adding that production would be strictly for export and there were no plans to legalise the drug.

    Cannabis and other narcotic use is banned in Rwanda. Users can be punished with jail terms of up to two years, while dealers face between 20 years to life in prison.

    "The consumption of cannabis is an offence and it will continue to be an offence," Rwanda's chief justice Faustin Ntezilyayo stressed at a press conference on Wednesday.


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