Business

Herbal remedies planned for mined-out bauxite lands

Ganja, moringa, guinea hen weed and more considered for greenhouses

BY BALFORD HENRY
Senior staff reporter
balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Friday, September 15, 2017

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Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Timeless Herbal Care (THC), Courtney Betty, says that the company is looking at a cooperative structure in terms of the greenhouse cultivation of ganja (marijuana) on mined-out bauxite lands.

Speaking at the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), under which THC will use the greenhouse technology for farming on the lands owned by the Jamaica Bauxite Institute (JBI), at the Ministry of Transport and Mining last Wednesday, he said that “first and foremost”, THC considers the partnership with the JBI as being about “grassroots community building”.

“One of the structures we are looking at is essentially bringing the concept of cooperatives to these communities,” he said.

“Our view is that we want to transform the farmers from sharecroppers to shareholders, and we see the cooperatives model as a tremendous way of allowing them to take control of their own destinies,” he said.

He said that THC is happy to be a part of the development, and to be able to work along with the synergies that are already there to assist in continuing the process of nation building, “one community at a time”.

Betty said that THC recognises the mined-out bauxite lands are a great asset, and saluted the JBI for sharing their ownership of the lands, and their engagement with the communities and the infrastructure to create what he described as a “great partnership” for THC.

However, he took time out to explain that MOU was not limited to growing ganja/marijuana for medical/health purposes but would also involve developing other Jamaican natural plants and nutraceuticals.

“It's about working with the communities and developing Jamaica's natural plants and which are so obvious, but up to today we have not been able to take advantage of,” Betty added.

Under the agreement with Timeless Herbal Care, which Betty insists is a Jamaican company although it is based in Canada presently, the JBI will provide technical training for farmers in the growing of the crops.

The farmers will sell the yield at market value to THC, which will extract the medicinal contents for the various markets that they serve.

The plants to be cultivated also include guinea hen weed, moringa and black castor bean.

Minister of Transport and Mining, Mike Henry, in welcoming the partnership, said that it will be of major economic benefit to the farmers.

He said that the crops targeted under the initiative are in high demand worldwide because their nutraceutical value is immense.

“We must now move with urgency to capitalise on what is truly ours,” Henry said.

He also pointed out that the farmers will be taught new skills in producing plants to internationally accepted standards.

JBI Executive Director Parris Lyew-Ayee noted that the World Bank has been supporting the project of greenhouse farming on the lands in the past, and will resume its support, as it wishes to use it as an example of “true sustainable development in a mining environment.

Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Olivia Grange, who also attended the signing, said that the project will create a new source of revenue and jobs from the growing, reaping, and exporting of nutraceuticals.

She said that there are buyers in Canada who are waiting for products from Timeless Herbal Care.

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