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Call to grow medical ganja

GERCINE CARTER, [email protected]

Call to grow medical ganja

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BARBADOS MUST CAPITALISE on the economic benefits of growing medical marijuana.

The suggestion has been made by Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Indar Weir, who said yesterday the paradigm shift must be made to embrace the new possibilities in agriculture.

Looking at the value-added factor in the spin-off products such as cosmetic oils and massage creams that could be derived from marijuana grown for medicinal purposes, the minister said: “We have no time to waste making sure that we can get medical marijuana growing.”

In his maiden speech in the House of Assembly, Weir said: “We have an abundance of opportunities when it comes to unlocking and giving people the chance to grow medical marijuana, simply because of the value chain that follows.”

He said the legislative framework would first have to be examined, with the Ministry of Health also involved in the process.

This was all part of the ideas for the “breaking of new soil” advanced by Weir as he shared his plan for the advancement of agriculture.

Supporting Prime Minister Mia Mottley’s Mini-Budget presented Monday, Weir said there was “an abundance of opportunities” to reduce a food import bill which stood at $684 million in 2017.  He said that of this, $23.3 million was spent importing vegetables and $26.6 million on fresh fruits. He maintained Barbados had the ability to produce a lot more than it was doing.

Weir signalled his intention to reduce this outflow of money, disclosing he had already been engaging in discussions with players in the agricultural sector.

The Member of Parliament for St Philip South said he had already initiated “meaningful conversations” with the sugar producers, which had resulted in consideration being given to increasing sugar production to 20 000 tonnes.

“We have people . . . . who are prepared to help us transition from bulk sugar to specialty sugars, and so there is a conversation ongoing to help us save significant amounts in foreign currency by being able to export specialty sugars.”

Weir also said he had engaged in conversations with people interested in producing fancy molasses. (GC)