Business

Stepping High Ganja Festival wants Gov't support

BY HOWARD CAMPBELL
Observer senior writer

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

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A director of the Stepping High Ganja Festival says the event needs Government support if it is to realise its true potential. The March 1-2 show took place in Negril and once again got strong support from ganja enthusiasts.

Khimaja Connell of organisers Stepping High Promotions, told the Jamaica Observer that there was a 50-50 split in patronage between Jamaicans and foreigners. With government backing, she is confident their numbers would increase significantly.

“People came from as far away as Brazil and Switzerland, which means more and more people know about Stepping High. We would like more support from the JTB (Jamaica Tourist Board) and the Tourism Enhancement Fund, which would bring a better turnout,” she said.

Connell's family put up most of the $9 million it took to stage the 2019 Stepping High Ganja Festival, which comprised workshops on the economic and health benefits of ganja. A live show featuring Capleton, I-Wayne, Addis Pablo, Dann-I and Lee “Scratch” Perry closed the show.

“The live show was amazing; all the artistes were great,” Connell said.

Another high point for promoters was the involvement of small businesses, especially from Negril, which has hosted the Stepping High Ganja Festival since its inception in 2003. Connell disclosed that several local entrepreneurs sponsored banners and attended the show.

That, she noted, is evidence that, “people are becoming more aware of our product. It shows they understand what we are doing”.

Small ganja farmers, who have been part of Stepping High Ganja Festival since its launch, again exhibited their products in competition. This year's winner was Errol Miller for his Star Light brand; Walter “King Lawyah” Campbell was runner-up for his Lamb's Bread; while third was Wilmington “Wabba” Clayton and his World Series.

Workshop presenters included Dr K'adamawe K'nife, a lecturer from the Mona School of Business at The University of the West Indies.

After the Jamaican Government announced its first steps to decriminalise ganja in late 2015, the Connells expanded the profile of their festival. In 2016 they added an extra day and recruited high-profile artistes such as Capleton, Toots and The Maytals, and Jah9 to perform.

There was more expansion this year in the form of bee-farming, another traditional micro industry in western Jamaica, The Hanover Bee Farmers Association presented a how-to demonstration.


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