Malawi President Lazarus Chakwera has warned that his country’s leading foreign exchange earner, tobacco, is in terminal decline and he urged a switch to high-growth crops like cannabis, which was legalised locally for some uses last year.

Chakwera made the comments during a state of the nation address in which he said tobacco was expected to earn less than $US200 million ($A259 million) in 2021, a figure roughly similar to the past two years but well below previous annual earnings that used to top $US350 million.

On Wednesday, neighbouring Zimbabwe’s government also changed its regulations to encourage investment into cannabis.