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Panama and Guyana preparing to join Latin American hemp rush

One leading hemp research company is looking at creating an FDA-approved capsule that could replace ibuprofen to treat acute pain. (Dreamstime/TNS)

Posted: Friday, November 6, 2020. 12:02 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: Hemp Today reports that as Latin America embraces hemp production, Guyana and Panama have joined the charge.

As announced by Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall, Guyana’s government is reviewing feasibility studies and has discussed hemp trials. In Panama, government representatives and deputies in the National Assembly agreed to form a committee to analyze hemp’s potential for industrial development during discussions about a proposed hemp law.

Proponents see economic benefits not only from farming and processing, but noted knock-on potential positive effects in the marketing, banking, insurance and retailing sectors. Supporters say the industry can create up to 50 thousand sustainable jobs if 500 Guyanese families are allocated 25 acres each for a total of 12, 500 acres to produce industrial hemp; another 13,000 or so acres could produce 50,000 tons of hemp stalk which could be processed into 15,000 tons of fiber and 35,000 tons of hurd. Once established, those hemp farms could then scale up.

But opponents have warned that such a gung-ho attitude could shunt aside attempts to revive production of sugar and rice. They have therefore suggested a “go-slow” approach to the new crop. Proponents say feasibility studies would embrace these issues, and that trials along with more discussion are necessary.

Beyond sugar and rice, key crops in Guyana are coffee, cocoa, coconuts, fruit, vegetables, and tobacco. Only about 2% of Guyana’s land is arable, or 17,000 sq. km (6,500 sq. mi.)

Meanwhile in Panama, the Ministries of Health, Foreign Trade and Agricultural Development are discussing a bill by member of parliament Kayra Harding. Health Minister Luis Francisco Sucre declared, “It is a good project both in terms of health, and in the commercial and agricultural aspects — and the Ministry of Health should participate in everything that concerns it,” while vice-minister for foreign trade Juan Carlos Sosa noted that such an industry is part of his ministry’s goals for development.

About 1.4 million acres of land in Panama is farmland; key crops are bananas, cocoa, beans, coffee, corn, potatoes, rice, soybeans and sugar cane.

Panama and Guyana join Ecuador, Paraguay, Mexico, Argentina and Brazil as the latest Latin American countries to have set themselves on a path to develop national hemp programs. All have done so in the past nine months.


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