Fri | Jul 30, 2021

Trelawny hemp farm hits a snag

Published:Thursday | May 13, 2021 | 12:06 AMLeon Jackson/Gleaner Writer

WESTERN BUREAU:

When the company sent off its first shipment of cannabidiol (CBD) to Delaware in the United States in December 2020, owners of the Trelawny-based Organic Growth Holdings (OGH) were bubbling with optimism.

However, that momentum has slowed and the rosy projections are no longer looking bright.

Beyond the marketing challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, there are fresh concerns that soil quality is compromising the ability to generate the volume of raw material forecast.

“The cane lands lacked the kind of nutrients needed to grow hemp,” said Robert Weinstein, president of OGH, in an interview with The Gleaner.

“The COVID-19 pandemic also affected our international sales and a decision to produce a mixture of CBD oil and coconut oil is awaiting approval from the Ministry of Health.”

Because of OGH’s organic philosophy, it does not use fertiliser to replenish lands for the cultivation of hemp.

“What we are now engaged in is the planting of short-maturity crops, which will improve the nutrients in the soil that will have a positive effect on the growth of hemp going forward,” said Weinstein.

The OGH president said that the company remained undaunted in its ambitions, insisting that he was in it “for the long haul”. Weinstein also sought to assure staff that their jobs were secure.

OGH is expecting to have ready by mid-year another shipment of CBD oil.

When the company broke ground in December 2019 on 625 acres of former sugar lands at Swanwick in Trelawny, Managing Director Michel Yeckes was bullish on the prospects of producing cannabidiol and other by-products from their hemp farm.

Then Agriculture Minister Audley Shaw, who was at the groundbreaking, predicted that within three years local hemp farming would be worth billions of dollars.

“By 2022, the by-products from hemp will become a $6-billion industry,” Shaw had said.