By Mickella Anderson
KINGSTON, Jamaica, (JIS) – Sixteen communities and approximately 128 small traditional cannabis farmers will be targeted for support over the next three to four years under the Alternative Development Programme 2.0. The programme aims to eliminate illicit cultivation of cannabis by transitioning farmers into the legally regulated industry.
“Participating communities would be allowed to cultivate up to ten acres of land. Each participating community will be required to sell output to a person who has a license from the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA), and we expect that to be in place by April 2023,” said minister of industry, investment and commerce, senator Aubyn Hill.
He was speaking during a press conference at the Jamaica House March 6, during which he outlined assistance for small farmers in the medical cannabis industry.
Senator Hill highlighted further support, through the mother farm concept. This is a shared economy approach in which a licensed cannabis cultivator or processor enters into an agreement with a small-scale/traditional farmer to cultivate the crop and sell it back to the mother farm/licensee.
“When I look across Jamaica … you have people with one acre, two acres, three acres, but they don’t have the working capital. The mother farm concept allows for a big investor,” the minister explained. “So, we’re finding ways to make sure we alleviate some of the problems. We’re looking at very real ways to develop medical cannabis growth in Jamaica.”
A release from the ministry also stated that efforts are being made to have medical cannabis designated as an industrial/agricultural crop through amendment of the Agricultural Produce Act.
On Monday, March 6, a press conference was convened to address the importation of cannabis from Canada. Minister Hill clarified that only 44 pounds of cannabis was imported by Cannaviva Jamaica Limited, and the particular strain, tranquil elephantizer, is not found in the island. He indicated that, since 2018, Jamaica has exported 1,608 pounds of cannabis.
“So, as an exporting country, we have a lot to benefit from and… we want to export more. We want this industry to grow more,” Senator Hill pointed out. He further advised that he will be leading a trade mission to Canada in May, where the cannabis issue will be placed on the agenda.