Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Barbados Medicinal Cannabis Licensing Authority (BMCLA), Dr. Shantal Munro-Knight, has given the assurance that small farmers will be accommodated in this island’s medicinal cannabis industry.
Speaking during a virtual press conference on the Zoom platform, Dr. Munro-Knight said this commitment, which was given by Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Indar Weir, was about making sure small farmers were facilitated throughout.
While she pointed out that in applying to the BMCLA they did not need to have land and other things in place, the CEO said they could apply to the Authority and signal interest in paticipating under the FEED programme.
Dr. Munro-Knight said: “They will be given some technical input as well, so for instance, assistance with irrigation, asisistance with pesticides, fertilizers, etc., free. They would have access to technical persons as well who would work alongside with them. So, we are starting that as a pilot programme with five acres available.”
Pointing out that five acres did not mean five farmers, the CEO added: “So, if people can get together that would mean 10 farmers or 15 farmers working on that five acre lot and being able to be provided with those inputs, free of cost. And, this is being facilitated through the Ministry.”
Meanwhile, addressing the issue of financing, she said it was understood that financing for the industry could be a bit difficult, and as such, the organisation was not asking people to pay all of their fees up front. She noted too that the Authority would allow people with a five-year licence to pay their fees in three tranches.BMCLA-brochure-What-you-should-know-in-a-bud
Further explaining the level of flexibility in the process, she said: “And, we are saying to people that we are not even going to say: ‘a one-size fits all’ in relation to that three years. So yes, for the first year, you will have to pay 60 per cent upfront but then your other payment, we will work with you individually to come up with an appropriate kind of payment plan that will suit the circumstances for everybody.”
She also noted that BMCLA’s team was committed to working through the entire application process with applicants, who would be given four months from when they submit their applications to hear again from the Authority.
“And that’s a maximum of four months; we are not saying it will take four months…. And that four months has to do with due diligence checks that we will have to undertake. We have to speak to international agencies; check international databases and those sorts of things, but also as well, it will allow us to be able to work with some applicants.
“Applicants submit an application and we look at it; you know there are some things that could be strengthened. We are not just going to say ‘ok that’s what they have done’ and just push them through, but we will call applicants and make suggestions and do work with them,” Dr. Munro-Knight stressed, adding that the success of the Authority depends on the success of the industry and the players.