August harvest for first crop of ganja under pilot project

Observer staff reporter

Thursday, April 25, 2019

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MONTPELIER, St James — Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries JC Hutchinson has announced that the first crop of medical cannabis plants, cultivated in Accompong Town, St Elizabeth, should be ready for harvesting by August.

Accompong Town is the location for one of two Alternative Development Programme (ADP) pilot projects.

“They have already had 10 acres prepared and those 10 acres are going to be planted with legal ganja. With that, we are hoping that we will be reaping within another three to four months,” Hutchinson declared.

“The programme is well advanced and we are saying that it is one where we are looking to assist the small farmers who are the traditional ganja growers,” he continued.

The other pilot project is in Orange Hill, Westmoreland.

ADP will provide an avenue for small ganja farmers to benefit from the cannabis industry.

The programme aims to prevent and eliminate the illicit cultivation of ganja by channelling the process through legal streams. The pilot projects will involve the farming of ganja in order to provide raw material for processors.

Among the stipulations are the tagging of plants under a track and trace mechanism; sale of products through licensed processors; farmers' alignment to community-based associations/organisations; accommodating special groups, such as the Maroons and Rastafarians; and that maximum cultivations should not exceed half an acre per farmer.

Hutchinson, who was speaking at the Montpelier Agricultural Show held in Montpelier, St James on Easter Monday, stated that the ADP will move across the island after the successful implementation of the two pilot projects.

“Once that is done and we find that everything has gone right, we are going to be moving into other areas where we are going to ask the traditional ganja planters to get themselves into groups so we can come and provide you with all the necessary information so that you can be growing cannabis legally,” he said.

“The programme is well advanced and we are saying that it is one where we are looking to assist the small farmers who are the traditional ganja growers,” he said.

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