Invegrow, led by Tanya Clarke and Nebert Nyirenda, was founded in 2013 and embarked on several years of research before being awarded both Industrial and Medical commercial licenses last year.
Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world with an intense need for job creation and investment, especially in the sustainability space as resource depletion is rampant, and seeing the progress at Invegrow was inspiring. Seeing a woman-led company in a male-dominated industry step up and show the way while creating over 100 jobs on the way is something the world needs way more of.
Invegrow is now well primed to go to the next level and has done an incredible amount of groundwork in order to get there, with the ability to produce industrial products like fibre, hurd, seeds, oil, and biomass, as well as medical grade flowers and extracts.
I have yet to see an operation that is as ready to feed into the whole value chain as I saw at the Invegrow anchor farm, Nangula Estate, near Lilongwe, the Malawian capital.
Invegrow cultivates medical-grade flowers at the estate, contracts rural farmers to grow industrial crops for biomass and seed and is a partner in Genscore together with Hempvolution, a licensed breeder of cannabis genetics that has several registered varieties that have been trialed and stabilised for the region.
Nangula has the capacity to process flowers, biomass, seeds, stalks, extracts, and oils, and produce cosmetic and food end products is GAcP certified and ISO22000 compliant.
I was impressed to see a full seed processing line including an oil expeller, a grinder to produce hemp protein powder, and what I believe is the first hemp dehulling (shelling) line in Africa, capable of producing hemp hearts. The regional hemp food market needs to develop, especially with the high rates of malnutrition and hunger in the region. There is also a briquet-making machine using the waste products which will hopefully be able to soon offer an alternative to charcoal which is the cause of the massive deforestation occurring in Malawi.
Hempcrete construction is also being targeted as an eco-alternative as all clay bricks are currently fired using trees in the region too.
The medical grade flower greenhouses were full of wonderfully smelling buds with a particular focus on “blue monkey” varieties developed by Genscore that are high CBD and a beautiful purple colour. Invegrow has invested in an extraction lab and has the ability to do CO2 and ethanolic extraction, as well as short-path and wiped film distillation.
The focus over the next few months will be the flower, biomass, and food lines.
All in all, it was a good visit with some inspiring strategy and vision sessions, preparing for the next stage of “investing in growth” for Invegrow. Hemporium is a proud partner in this project and will continue to collaborate to see Invegrow and the Malawi hemp industry grow from strength to strength.