Lesotho is a country of lush mountains and crystal clear water, its high altitude and fertile soils, untainted by pesticides and heavy metals, and seemingly endless sunny days, provide an ideal growing climate for medical grade cannabis.
Cannabis has been widely cultivated across Lesotho for generations. In 2017, in a bid to formalise the industry as part of its agricultural strategy, Lesotho became the first African country to legalise the cultivation of cannabis for medicinal purposes. Seeking to spur the development of legal plantations, it put in place an expansive and supportive regulatory and licensing regime. Lesotho’s medicinal cannabis licence is an all-encompassing licence, it allows a license holder to cultivate, manufacture, supply, hold, import, export and transit cannabis and cannabis resin.
A growing sector driving job creation in Lesotho
Many foreign investors, including the world’s leading international cannabis company Canopy Growth Corporation, invested tens of millions of dollars into developing infrastructure and facilities in Lesotho, attracted by the fertile growing environment, legal framework and the low cost of production. This spurred the sectors growth and opened up a much-needed source of jobs in a country with low employment.
Highlands is granted one of the largest cannabis licenses in Lesotho
Highlands Investments formerly Canopy Growth Africa, was granted one of the first and largest licenses by the Lesotho government in 2017. The license allows Highlands to cultivate, manufacture, supply, import and export medical cannabis products including flower, oil, distillate and isolate.
When establishing the Canopy Growth Africa operations in Lesotho, Canopy Growth handpicked its management team for their experience and industry expertise, and it was this team that went on to form Highlands Investments by way of a management buyout in 2020.
We have a highly qualified, commercially strong leadership team. A team of agronomists, scientists, pharmacists and engineers oversees our cultivation process. In total, we currently employ 20 permanent staff in Cape Town and Lesotho, and up to 40 people are hired on a seasonal basis from the local community.
A diversified cannabis business
Today, Highlands is a diversified cannabis business with several distinct business models and routes to revenue. Our primary focus is on supplying high quality, low cost THC and CBD flower and extract. We offer contract cultivation services where we grow on behalf of other companies either using their genetics or a selection from our own. We also currently are developing and selling a range of our own consumer products.
Highlands has two sites in Lesotho; our main site is at Kolojane and our secondary site is near Maseru airport, which is currently leased to another cannabis company. Over $35 million was invested by Canopy Growth to develop the two sites, which are now wholly owned by Highlands Investments. Each site includes, state-of-the art growing, processing and packaging facilities that comply to international and local regulations. By ensuring the optimal growing conditions we are able to produce high-quality cannabis flower at scale.
Our sites are fully operational and in the 2019/2020 season we planted a single-variety of Cherry Wine at Kolojane. Cherry Wine is one of the foundational CBD strains and is widely used because of its high quality.
High quality cannabis for medical cannabis products
In April 2020, we successfully harvested and processed 4 tonnes of high quality cannabis flower. The cannabis was dried, packaged and is being transported to companies around the world where it will be processed into medical cannabis products.
In November 2020, we planted 5 hectares of Cherry Wine CBD and 6 hectares of high THC from a variety of strains. In April 2021, we will harvest in excess of 10 tonnes of cannabis for sale across international markets.