Fri | Jan 18, 2019

High hopes for hemp - US$4m facility slated for Trelawny before June

Published:Sunday | January 6, 2019 | 12:00 AMLynford Simpson
Joseph Shoucair
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A United States-based company is poised to invest US$4 million (approximately J$540 million) in a hemp project in Long Pond, Trelawny.

Chairman of SCJ Holdings, Joseph Shoucair, says the company, Organic Growth Holdings Inc, which is incorporated in Oregon, will be setting up shop on some 500 acres of former cane lands.

"We expect to break ground for the project in the second quarter of 2019," Shoucair told The Sunday Gleaner during a recent interview at Jamaica House.

He said the project will entail the planting of hemp, the construction of three greenhouses, a drying and storage shed and four climate-controlled, insulated storage containers.

"This is in addition to (the construction of) a building to store CBD (cannabidiol) oil, which will be exported," said Shoucair.

CBD oil is a derivative of hemp and is being increasingly used for its medicinal benefits. It is effective at treating a range of ailments due to its interaction with the human endocannabinoid system.

CBD also interacts with serotonin receptors, a neurotransmitter that moderates blood pressure, feelings of fear and anxiety and reduces depression. These physiological responses to CBD mean it can potentially address conditions from sleep disorders to chronic pain to symptoms of discomfort from cancer treatment.

The World Health Organization has also reported that, "In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential. To date, there is no evidence of public health related problems associated with the use of pure CBD."

The multimillion-dollar hemp project is one of many major projects which Shoucair said should come on stream shortly.

 

ADJACENT TO HIGHWAY

 

He also told The Sunday Gleaner that a Gassan Azan-led consortium will be establishing a major agro-processing and warehousing plant on lands in the Greater Bernard Lodge development area in St Catherine.

This facility will occupy a significant portion of the land that is reserved for industry in the proposed new township in Bernard Lodge, and is slated to be adjacent to the PJ Patterson Highway.

Shoucair, who is also chairman of the enterprise team that has been tasked with implementing the Bernard Lodge development, said another consortium involving Jamaican interests will plant winter vegetables and lowland coffee on "substantial acreage" in the area.

According to Shoucair, of the 4,677 acres set aside for the development of the new township, agriculture accounts for the lion's share, with 1,717 acres or 37 per cent.

Housing/residential comes next with 1,439 acres, or 28 per cent. Just over 550 acres, or 12 per cent, will be allocated to the small farmers or other persons now on the property, while provision will be made for play areas.

"We have ensured, based on the master plan, that there will be lots of open, green spaces," said Shoucair.