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JAS supports small farmers' role in emerging cannabis industry

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staff reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, November 09, 2018

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JAMAICA Agricultural Society (JAS) President Lenworth Fulton said Wednesday that his organisation will be fighting for the inclusion of small cannabis (ganja) farmers in the development of the industry.

“We will be opening our mouths very loud, [because] it is this same country that imprisoned people; many from my district went to prison for a year and six months, and two years, for having one ganja tree. Now that the trade is opening up, we cannot and will not sit idly by and allow the big guys to shovel out the small farmers out of cannabis,” Fulton said.

“In fact, I am discussing with some persons from St Ann to make a property that we (JAS) have down there available to grow cannabis. So, we want to get in the middle of it — to support the small farmers to grow their stuff, as well,” he noted.

“Many, many years, the Rastaman have carried this ball to their peril… And the JAS must now take that charge forward for them,” he added, to applause from the audience at Wednesday's launch of the annual 'Eat Jamaican' month campaign at the JAS head office in downtown Kingston.

Fulton also explained that JAS has already written to the Cannabis Licensing Authority about its intention to participate in the process.

JAS is celebrating the 15th anniversary of its 'Eat Jamaican' campaign, in collaboration with the Ministry of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries (MICAF), in November.

Fulton said that during the month, the society will be encouraging Jamaicans to integrate local produce in all diets, and will be collaborating with the Ministry of Education to not only teach healthy lifestyles during the month, but to implement it through the school-feeding programmes.

He said that JAS will also be engaging the Ministry of Health, under its Jamaica Moves programme, in collaboration with the 4-H clubs, to appeal to youths in the promotion of healthy lifestyles.

“The Eat Jamaican campaign, in its new disposition, must host a symposium where chefs are engaged to introduce local foods in their menus,” Fulton added.

Permanent secretary in MICAF Andrene Collings read the message from the minister, Audley Shaw, which said that he was very happy with the current prospects and the opportunities in the agricultural and agro-industrial sectors.

“Eating Jamaican is not just about reducing our trade deficit, however. It is also about contributing to the development and growth of our economy through, for example, the diversification of our farms, a greater focus on value-added products, as well as micro and small business development,” Shaw's message said.

“Let me urge all Jamaicans to support our farmers, our agro-processors, our micro and small businesses. I urge all Jamaicans to support our efforts during the month, and to let eating Jamaican become a part of our lifestyle,” he added.

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