Excerpt From Ministerial Statement – Hon Saboto Caesar Agriculture Minister
There is a clear policy to diversify the agriculture sector in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The COVID 19 pandemic has brought into sharper focus the need and demand for plant based medicine.
Increasing production of crops which are currently imported as a part of an import substitution drive and the establishment of extraction systems for a plant base medicinal industry are two means of deepening the diversification process, in addition to expanding the acreages of commodities already forming part of the extremely diverse production platform.
Cabinet has granted approval upon application to 38 traditional cannabis cultivators; 10 groups of traditional cannabis cultivators comprising over 150 persons in the aggregate; 13 farmers who were not traditional cultivators; 5 local investor companies and 17 foreign based companies. Many of the investors have been unable to travel for the past months. This quite naturally will slow down the cannabis industry’s development.
The Medicinal Cannabis Authority is currently in the final stages of completing its Lab (95% completed) to be able to do all testing required in country. The focus is on medicinal. This begins and end with science. Once the standard operating procedures are in place applications will be made for international accreditation. This will certainly improve the marketability of medicinal cannabis produced in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
For many years, we have heard canvassed information about the medicinal properties of many plants in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. A book was written and published by Jo-Ann Ince Jack. The Ministry of Agriculture has contacted Professor Lennard O’Garro to do a costing on an entire plant based medicinal extract value chain. This is expected to be completed in approximately three months. The plants which will the main focus, but the list is not exhaustive are: arrowroot, aloe vera, turmeric, moringa, mushroom, ginger, coconut for coconut oil, mauby and nutmeg.
The idea is to establish clear Standards and Compliance Research protocols for entities wishing to explore the extraction of plant based medicine. This Research Only programme will be for twenty four months minimum, after which Professor O’Garro is expected to advise on pathways to develop a full fledge plant base medicinal extraction industry. This will certainly support the first phase of the industry which touches and concerns medicinal cannabis extraction.
We have started meetings with local herbalist; will be meeting our local chemistry and biology experts. This is a part of the next generation of agriculture. We already have the Plant Breeding legislation to protect the rights of plant breeders, this will attract scientist who will be able to improve the genetics of a wide variety of plants for use in the plant base medicine extraction sector.