Target diaspora to invest in ganja - UWI lecturer
University of the West Indies lecturer in social enterprise and entrepreneurship, Dr K'adamawe K'nife, has called for the government to establish a Diaspora Investment Strategy to encourage Jamaicans living overseas to invest in the country's fledgling cannabis industry.
K'nife's comments came as he made the main presentation in a panel discussion during the CanEx Jamaica Conference at the Montego Bay Convention Centre, St James, on Friday. He said it would be in the country's best interest to have Jamaicans at home and in the diaspora capitalising on the industry, as opposed to foreigners, as non-nationals would only repatriate profits.
"Investment schemes must favour Jamaicans at home and in the diaspora, not the traditional foreign direct investment approach, as this is a failed approach. This means we must offer better incentives to Jamaicans who live outside of Jamaica to come and be a part of this industry. I am saying, encourage your people first ... When somebody comes into Jamaica, who are not Jamaicans, they just carry the money to dem yard," he said.
K'nife said the Cannabis Licensing Authority (CLA) ought to explain to the country what its unique value proposition is, as well as its standardising and customising procedures for the ganja industry, and should also reveal its moneymaking and growth strategy.
"It is about wealth creation, not welfare creation ... If the CLA cannot present to me a document that show me these, then mi think say you a joke," he said. "It must present the reality of the people and no cut-and-paste something from somewhere and come impose on the people."
Need for transparency
K'nife added, "There is a need for more transparency in the CLA. People do not know what is happening there. In addition, a more grounded licensing scheme is needed - if not, this can be a source of serious conflict/sabotage across the island.
"I am telling you that the scope is great," he stressed. "Do not lose ... we have to let go the selfish mentality that we have. Did you hear the brethren speak about the 32 licences given in Canada and about a thousand persons applying? What is going to happen in Jamaica? Are the same 21 families that control Jamaica going to be given licences again?"
The lecturer said the revenue generated from the industry should go to the parish councils and not central government, as this is the only way communities will be directly impacted. He said the underground ganja trade will continue to flourish whether or not the smaller farmers were granted licences, as they already have the know-how from decades of experience.
"Ganja farmer and dem people deh no fraid fi police and government and dem ting deh, you know. We not playing any hand-to-mouth. Ganja farmers, we are not hand-to-mouth people; we are high growth. That is why we have established the highest growth-generating agro-enterprise in the Caribbean without any support from government. Ganja farmers are not afraid of the State and are very independent - they do not need the State to establish an industry. Because we have done it before and we can do it again," K'nife said.