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Kaieteur News - Hemp As Economic Booster

"Hemp has an income earning capacity that is five times more than rice. It is believed that half an acre of hemp could allow for a cultivator to earn a middle class income. These assertions were on Friday made by Dr. Turhane Doerga during a media briefing.

Dr. Doerga is part of the Guyana Hemp Association which is advocating for hemp to have a legitimate place in the agriculture sector. But many people may be oblivious to what hemp is. Essentially it is supposed to be a non-drug variety of the cannabis plant with many uses. Given the many uses of hemp ranging from medicinal to construction, Dr. Doerga is convinced that embracing hemp as an incoming earning asset could in fact help to address a daunting unemployment situation that exists in Guyana. “Hemp can eradicate poverty and create sustainable jobs…and communities which have been left behind can develop in a sustainable way. If you see what hemp does, it gives you from energy, food, industrial products,” said Dr. Doerga. He sought to substantiate his argument by pointing out that countries like Canada have been expanding its annual hemp crop even reaching a record high 66,700 acres in 2013. He also shared that although the United States has anti-cannabis laws it is legal to import and sell hemp products there allowing for about $500 million worth of products to be imported every year. “All of the dash boards, the panels and seats of expensive cars are made out of that and that is because it is biodegradable…” said Dr. Doerga as he pointed out that the hemp crop is 8,000 years old. He said that hemp was the main crop in the past that was eventually criminalised by the Western World. He, however, noted that in 1961 the United Nation after World War II felt that there was a crime done against humanity and took it out of the narcotics category. Guyana in 1972 signed on to the UN Convention embracing this development but according to Dr. Doerga “unfortunately no one here was sensitised to it and the subsequent government failed to implement it.” “I believe that this thing got lost and it is only now that the world is discovering it again…” said Dr. Doerga. But the Hemp Association, according to him, started to raise awareness about this crop about one year ago. “For us we believe in building the communities from the bottom up,” said Dr. Doerga. He added that deliberate efforts at sensitisation were made at stakeholders’ forums to emphasise the need for the economy to be restructured and become vibrant again. “We know agriculture and we look for solutions in what we know and that is what we have being doing,” said Dr. Doerga. Hemp is grown in more than 30 countries. In 2011 the top hemp-producing country was China followed by Chile and the European Union. It is the belief of the members of the Association that once regulated correctly, industrial hemp will have tremendous economic and social benefits for Guyana. And since the UN Narcotic Convention, which separates hemp from marijuana as an industrial crop, the Association is calling for local legislations that reflect the global standards that are already being embraced in other sectors. The Guyana Hemp Association has already written to President David Granger requesting a meeting to discuss the implementation of the United Nations regulation concerning Hemp as well as seeking Government’s no objection concerning the rapid cultivation of hemp in Guyana. But in order to continue to raise awareness about hemp, the Association has planned a national consultation for Saturday June 11, at the Critchlow Labour College/Texila University, Woolford Avenue. The public has been invited to attend this forum which is slated to commence at 09:00 hours."

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