MoBay businessman makes argument for industrial hemp cultivation

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

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MONTEGO BAY, St James — Montego Bay businessman Dwight Crawford is advocating for idle sugar-cane lands to be transformed to cultivate industrial hemp for the manufacturing of construction material.

He added that industrial hemp is also more environmentally friendly.

“Industrial hemp will go directly to the use of textile, commercial material — all of the material for construction. I think it is a little more environmentally friendly than all the other things that we have been using over the years to produce textiles where we have to chop down trees and mining lands. Hemp is definitely a good solution,” Crawford, who is the conceptualiser of Build Expo and Conference, said.

“We not going back into cane, and the lands are there idle and will never be used and we can't transform all our cane lands into real estate?” he continued.

Meanwhile, speaking at the Jamaica Credit Union League's 77th Annual General Meeting and Convention at the Hilton Rose Hall Hotel and Spa in St James, recently, Minister of Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Audley Shaw disclosed that there is growing interest in putting idle Government lands to use, including among prospective industrial hemp growers.

“And the good news is there is a lot of interest in the idle lands that we have, including, by the way, marginal lands, some of it is highly saline content, some of it a little swampy... But there are some of the people who want marginal lands because what they want to produce can be produced on marginal lands, that includes... industrial hemp. Yes, industrial hemp,” Shaw said.

In the meantime, Crawford, who is also the Jamaica Labour Party councillor for the Spring Garden division in St James, also pointed to the employment value that would stem from the cultivation of industrial hemp.

“Considering that there are talks about medical marijuana, everybody looks at it as a saviour [but] it is not going to be very labour-intensive. It is really not,” Crawford said. “It [is] closed off in greenhouses and it is not something that the everyday man and woman can get involved in as a real economy.”

“Industrial hemp, through utilising the cane lands, can be a real source of labour [by] employing men and women just as how we used to use cane. Cane was such a huge industry and with the amount of use that cane has, if we get an industry going on with hemp, it will definitely provide a lot of employment for Jamaican people.”

He noted that the cultivation of industrial hemp for the manufacturing of construction material will be high on the agenda for discussion at the second annual staging of Build Expo and Conference 2018, which will run from June 8 to June 11 at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in St James.

The theme for the event is: “Build the Future Today”.

Some of the speakers scheduled for Build Expo and Conference 2018 are: Canadian High Commissioner to Jamaica and Bahamas Laurie Peters; Senator Matthew Samuda; and Kevin O'Rourke, president and CEO of Peaks Green Constructors.

Build Expo and Conference was conceptualised as a forum to connect the local building development and construction sector with the global reservoir of ideas and innovation that exists to advance the industry and other related businesses.

It is also intended to educate and sensitise the Jamaican consumer about the sectoral trends that are at work to deliver more attractive, functional and cost-effective housing solutions to them.

Where the expo serves as a platform for showcasing products and services of participating companies, the conference is also a forum for advancing the knowledge base of industry professionals.

— Horace Hines

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