We want our piece of the pie – Ras Iyah V
With ganja steadily settling into the new decriminalised era with the smoking of the weed no longer an arrestable offence, ganja interest in western Jamaica will become a flourishing business and a source of legitimate financial empowerment.
In fact, Ras Iyah V, the chairman of the Westmoreland Hemp and Ganja Farmers? Association (WHGFA) is quite adamant that small farmers in the west must have a stake in whatever the future holds for ganja.
?We will not stand by and watch anybody outside of Rastafari and grassroots people take over this product ... and we make no apology ... we are saying this loud and clear to the Government, we are saying it to society, and we are saying it to the international community,? Iyah V declared at the launch of the WHGFA.
To ensure that western farmers are well positioned to grab whatever opportunities might arise, Iyah V has brought in experts such Harvard University?s law professor Charles Nessen to speak on issues such as protecting the interest of Rastafari and small ganja farmers. Additionally, he has personally visited Colorado to get a first hand view of what is happening there.
Like Iyah V, businessman Steven Rivierie, the president of the Hanover Hemp and Ganja Farmers Co-operative, also has his sights on grabbing a stake in the industry, which many believe will soon become quite lucrative.
According to Rivierie he will be seeking to cultivate ganja legally through the acquisition of the requisite permit once the expected Cannabis Licensing Authority is in place. His goal is to create a niche market, which is beneficial to his home parish.
?People want sun-grown herb (ganja), not those grown under lights, using chemical fertiliser,? said Rivierie. ?That is the market we want be going after ... we want a Jamaican strains and niche markets for the people who will pay a higher price for a more quality product.?
Riverie is also of the view that, in addition to the production of high quality ganja, his organisation would also want to create a ganja tour in the parish to cash into the local tourism market.
?We think we could run a ganja tour for visitors just like how other persons and entities are running other tours,? said Riverie. ?A ganja tour in Hanover could cover places like Kendal and Riverside and then stop at a river or a waterfall for a Jamaican meal ... for a Rastafari experience.?