Politics

‘Practical assistance’ to ganja farmers won’t include loans

The government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is prepared to provide “practical assistance” to traditional growers of marijuana after the law is reformed.

However, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said on WE FM Tuesday morning that this assistance will not include on-lending money to farmers.

Member of Parliament for North Leeward, Roland “Patel” Matthews, speaking on NICE Radio Tuesday night, asked why can’t the government borrow EC$10 million and lend to farmers to form themselves into a cooperative.

He noted that the Gonsalves government has borrowed US$50 million  (about EC$135 million) to build a hotel in Mt Wynne-Peters Hope, and will give it to an international hotel chain to manage.

“No, the business people seem not to have the acumen to manage a $10 million but you will borrow EC$130-odd million and put it in the hands of some management group, somebody from outside to manage,” said Matthews, who is the opposition’s lead spokesperson on agriculture.

He said that the government has “a golden opportunity” to use some money “to even set up a cooperative”.

The lawmaker said that under the draft law that will be debated in Parliament next week,  “there is no way the local farmers are going to benefit.

“Yes, by themselves, they believe they would benefit if they come together. But that shouldn’t be something they should be worried about. That should have been set up with the help of the government’s Cooperative Division to advise local ganja farmers … show them the advantages of them coming together as cooperative and be a producer of the raw supply to make the medicine.

“But nothing of that sort. The local man, the one man or the two men, who as usual going for years and planting their stuff would have to be fadging (scrounging) around, ‘How am I going to do this, how am I to start, who am I going to go to? How am I going to get a licence? All of these things.”

MP for North Leeward, Roland “Patel” Matthews. (IWN file photo)

Matthews noted that the government is advertising SVG as having more than 50 years of experience growing marijuana and over 2,000 farmers.

“You are going to pass legislation and using the illegal activity as a backdrop to encourage people to get involved in the industry. But while you are doing that, the persons who made your history possible, the persons who gave you the motivation of 50 years or 2,000 people planting, they are at the bottom, they are not getting anything,” Matthew said.

Matthew said each community in SVG where people have been involved in the illegal marijuana trade has a sad story about somebody having lost their life as a result.

“Something should come back so that these people. Say, ‘Yes, we have kept this going and now we are benefitting from it.’ Not somebody from overseas come in here and because you have a million dollars to buy a licence, you could buy a licence and you could have these people working along with you.

“We deserve better and I am saying that the position of the New Democratic Party and that of Patel Matthews is one that’s going to show that while we are, in principle, supporting the industry, we are doing so with the mindset that the ordinary ganja farmers should reap the benefits.”

‘Practical assistance’ through Ministry of Agriculture

But Gonsalves said there’s “practical assistance given through the Ministry of Agriculture; the practical assistance will be given through advisory groups in the ministry”

He further said the Cannabis Authority, which will grant licences for and collect fees from medical marijuana cultivation, will have personnel and resources to provide further advice.

“But what we have to be mindful about, what we have to be careful about is this, and this is why I say at the end of the medicinal cannabis rainbow there is not a metaphorical pot of gold, that you have to work hard and smart in this competitive business. In this unique way, we are seeking to build this industry.

“You can’t ask for the state to subsidise either the production end or the marketing end of ganja, or medical cannabis.”

Gonsalves said that since conquest and settlement, SVG has had four agricultural industries: sugar, cotton, arrowroot and bananas.

“And they were all subsidised at the production level and or at the marketing level,” he said.

Comments (8)

  1. Recently Attorney Lyndon George have expressed the view that that Mental Health issues are on the rise here in SVG.

    However Attorney Lyndon George, have not seen anything yet! With this proposed Legalisation of Cannabis, just you wait for what is coming! Indeed, what with those past years of illegal cannabis growing and use, it is in no way surprising that in this view of Lyndon George, Mental Health issues are on the rise in SVG, for we have all witnessed it. With former sane individual suddenly behaving peculiarly!

    What is most surprising though, is the stance of our Government towards this once illegal Cannabis, which can only be viewed as reprehensible and thoroughly amoral.

    Immorality at the top, has a way no doubt, of contaminating the rest of any society downwards, and so it has been here, as it will be more so in the future. In a substitute for economic competence, jobs and income growth our government have opted for a questionable option.

    In the circumstance, what do I believe about our Government and its leaders? I do believe that our existing Government are thoroughly selfishly ungodly, reprehensible and utterly immoral, and we as a nation shall therefore reap the whirlwind as a consequence, from their very, very poor decision making, as we do see like the Venezuelan people, at this very point in time, the consequence of greed, incompetence and self-interest.

    Too much Rum or too much Beers may encourage one to sleep it off, but the weed may send one psychotic and cause one to see there what is not really there! See the BRITISH NHS NOTICE: ( https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/cannabis-the-facts/ )

    Fixing and focusing attention on just one aspect of this cannabis issue, that is, the monetary rewards that are to be gained by the legal proliferation of cannabis growers, while at the same time ignoring the potential for harm in in our society is utterly shameful and thoroughly reprehensible.

    As the good scriptures have so warned us at 1 Timothy 6: 10 “ for the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” Therefore for what will it profit us as a nation as the Mental Health issues here continue to grow?

  2. I too “read with astonishment” the press release from the Ministry of Agriculture, of what could only be termed, the immorally listed number of reasons why invited investors are invited to invest in the proposed new SVG “Legal Weed” industry. Not only am I astonished at their reasons, I am also dear say also most suspicious of the Government intent towards the traditional SVG cannabis farmers.

    These traditional cannabis farmers themselves too, ought to be most suspicious about the Government’s true and real intensions, as they are asking these traditional cannabis farmers to declare who they are, where they plant and store their crops. But why so?

    Bananas, potato and other Farmers are not being ask where have they planted and stored their harvest, so why are these traditional Cannabis farmers being asked to do so, above all, to first identify themselves as to who they are.

    Here is a thing, as Ms Bacchus-Baptiste have identified, “They must bring in their marijuana and they are not guaranteed amnesty”! Why no offered amnesty?

    Ms Bacchus-Baptiste is indeed correct in asking, are “farmers” to “be compensated for marijuana they surrender to the state under the proposed marijuana amnesty law”?

    She further ask correctly, “What happens to the marijuana they bring in? When they have laboured, how are they going to be paid?” Well, destroyed most likely without any compensation, (after all it is an illegal produce) and this doing, in order to give the new invited investors an edge in their earnings, after all, we are all familiar with price, values and the law of supply and demand.

    Indeed, were I a traditional cannabis farmer in SVG I most surely, would be indeed most suspicious of this Government’s real intensions, for these salient and noticeable reasons;

    a) Were I to declare who I was as a cannabis farmer, I would be indeed declaring that I was a Law breaker and therefore risk all of the consequences that all that entails under existing laws.
    b) Having my once illegal Cannabis farm registered, my farm address would be for sure known and at a whim, it could declared by government, as “unsuitable in product terms” in favour of the Greenhouse grown product.
    c) Having given up my place of storage thus all of my stocks could be confiscated.

    Crony capitalist like all prudent investors, desires a good return on money invested, and with a plentiful supply of open field cannabis planters in SVG, the law of supply and demand could wreak havoc on any intended investment, however with Government acting in one’s desired interest eliminating the competition, what more can one desire?

    He who pays the piper calls the tune, therefore traditional Cannabis farmers be most careful and be warned, herein is a national government that lacks profound morality!

  3. 1. For years, the NDP has been very critical of the government’s high level of borrowing. Now Roland Matthews wants so see the government borrow even more. Go figure.

    2. Thousands of ganja farmers have being growing marijuana for over 40 years without borrowing a penny, some of them getting very wealthy in the process. Now Ronald Matthews wants the government to lend them $EC 10 million to support a very mature enterprise. Go figure.

    More proof that the NDP is not ready to govern.

    • You yourself know that the government borrowed HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS for an airport that brings in no revenue but instead caused taxes to nearly double so that we can keep it up and running. Mr. Matthews is talking about an investment that will bring in needed income to the people and revenue for the government. You certainly know this but you would do absolutely anything to bash the NDP even if your reasons are not justified. This is your way of saying “Both parties are bad but the ULP is better, so vote for Ralph”.

  4. They taking all the money they want an then pay top farmers what they Like ah DOG ULP politicians just means farmers will never made it at any cultivation they doing the percentage of arrowroot is in their hands and banana GOD knows but as for me you’ll right every man have their our heads take the money

  5. Farmers nah benefit in SVG at any cultivation they doing what they want an then pay top farmers what they want

  6. Who made this Godless , very Evil, wicked Heathen man to be leader of this christian nation st Vincent christian wake up? This leader is to destory you and romove the very name of Jesus Christ Lord God Almighty Jehovah from among you.

    Know who you are st Vincent you are part of the christian body of Israel one nation under Jehovah’God .

  7. Some things David W are very difficult to come to terms with but this much we do know that God “works all things according to the counsel of his own will” even the wicked!

    Remember this passage: John 6:70-71 New King James Version (NKJV)
    “Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?” He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve”.

    Sometimes we do get the governments that we deserve because of our own wayward ways. We are said to have “been given over”! Yet the just shall by faith” Habakkuk 2:2- 4 New King James Version (NKJV) So fear not David. W, as all of the wicked will be surely judged for their wickedness! Read:

    2. “Then the Lord answered me and said:
    “Write the vision And make it plain on tablets, That he may run who reads it.
    3. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie.
    Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry. 4. “Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith”.

Comments are closed.