Historic Hemp Bill tabled to benefit small farmers

Small farmers will be able to capitalise on the benefits of the hemp industry when the historic Industrial Hemp Bill,2022, gets the nod from legislators.

The landmark bill which was laid in the National Assembly on May 17, will be debated at the next sitting.

Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha on Saturday, shared with Berbice farmers how government will roll – out the cultivation of the medicinal plant.

“We will not give large scale for cultivation because if we do that, we will defeat the whole purpose. We have to give small plots to small farmers so that they can cultivate it, and they can make a living,” he said during a meeting with farmers at No.28 Village, Region Five.

Minister of Agriculture, Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha

The production of industrial hemp in Guyana for commercial purposes was first announced by President, Dr. Mohamed Irfaan Ali in March. The president believes Guyana could develop a viable hemp industry by exploiting, and capitalising on the value-added aspects of the plant.

“The hemp industry is not only about hemp production, but it is about having the processing and value-added facilities here in Guyana, and these are industries that can generate jobs, these are industries that have high value return,” the president had stated.

One of the main proposals of the Industrial Hemp Bill, is the establishment of the Guyana Industrial Hemp Regulatory Authority which will be responsible for governing the industry. A Board of Directors will be tasked with evaluating licenced applications and the granting, suspension and revocation of licences. It will also be responsible for setting growing quotas and working with the Customs Anti Narcotic Unit (CANU) to oversee hemp output.

Additionally, the bill states that no one will be allowed to cultivate hemp or engage in hemp-related operations without a licence issued by the authority under the Act. Persons found in violation of the Act, will be liable to summary conviction of $500,000 and imprisonment for one year.

According to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Centre, industrial hemp is from the plant species cannabis sativa, and has been used worldwide to produce a variety of industrial and consumer products. Hemp is a source of fibre, and the oilseed is grown in more than 30 nations. Some uses of hemp include rope, textiles, clothing, shoes, food, paper, bioplastics, insulation, and biofuel. It is rich in protein, unsaturated fats, fibre, minerals and vitamins. Hemp protects the brain, boosts heart health, reduces inflammation, improves skin conditions and relieves rheumatoid arthritis.