Sunday 15 December, 2019

Ground broken for US$1 million hemp farm in Westmoreland

Left to right, Farrah Zargaran, COO and co-founder of Virtudes Company; Jamiel Jamieson, co-founder and CEO, Virtudes Company; and Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Audley Shaw, prepare to break ground for a hemp farm in Westmoreland on Thursday.

Left to right, Farrah Zargaran, COO and co-founder of Virtudes Company; Jamiel Jamieson, co-founder and CEO, Virtudes Company; and Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Audley Shaw, prepare to break ground for a hemp farm in Westmoreland on Thursday.

Industry, Commerce, Agriculture and Fisheries Minister, Audley Shaw, on Thursday joined Virtudes Company in breaking ground for its first licensed hemp farm, a US$1 million project, in Westmoreland.

Virtudes Hemp Farm will cultivate medicinal hemp with plans to supply its by-products, including hemp flower and CBD oils, to both local and international health and wellness product manufacturers.

In bringing the keynote address, Shaw said Virtudes’ investment is expected to push Jamaica further to establish the island as the world leader of the medicinal hemp and cannabis industry.

“The opening of Virtudes Hemp Farm will add to the cadre of local cannabis and medicinal hemp companies supplying Jamaicans and overseas customers with the quality products that Jamaica and Jamaican producers are renowned for. I welcome the addition of this establishment, even as Jamaica continues to develop and bolster this burgeoning market. Virtudes’ investment will further help us to establish Jamaica as the world leader of the medicinal hemp and cannabis industry,” said Shaw.

Cannabis traditionally has been taboo, but recent scientific research has exposed the many health and medicinal benefits of hemp. With over US$1 million invested, Virtudes expects to have its first crop of hemp reaped from its farm of over 113 acres by March 2020.

The company’s plans include not only the cultivation of hemp to be distributed locally, but also to be exported to markets worldwide that are already interested in the product.

“The prospect of Jamaican hemp has already sparked interest from labs as far as the United Kingdom and Switzerland,” according to Farrah Zargaran, COO and co-founder of Virtudes Company.

She added that “Virtudes is inspired and motivated to bring this awareness to the world with the platform we have here in Jamaica. We take compliance very seriously, and strive to show the world that in Jamaica we can produce high-quality cannabis hemp at the same, if not higher, standards than our competitors abroad. Jamaica is full of exceptional farmers, engineers and entrepreneurs, therefore Virtudes will be a platform to showcase the many talents of Jamaica.”

The Virtudes team expressed confidence in the navigation of the challenges associated with the cannabis industry. With recent laws passed in the United States that favour hemp as a legal agricultural product, as well as current bills regarding banking for cannabis companies, it is believed that it can be regarded as an opportune time for Jamaica to see a venture such as Virtudes Farms.

Jamiel Jameison, another of the company’s founders, in his remarks, said the entity is committed to Jamaica.

“Virtudes is committed to the Jamaican community and helping people improve their quality of life. With over US$1 million invested in the Virtudes Hemp Farm in Westmoreland, we look forward to providing jobs to Jamaicans doing something they are passionate about, to provide a consistent and long-term platform for employment island-wide,” he said.

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