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Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP
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The hemp industry in Belize is progressing as the Ministry of New Growth Industries has been doing its research to make it a viable product for Belize. In speaking with Minister Kareem Musa earlier in April, Love News learnt that several factors need to be considered including zoning, and the science of growing hemp. Musa said, "We have revised the regulations as it relates to industrial hemp. If you recall from the last administration it was done very secretly in my opinion, secretively and in the dark. A lot of people weren't aware that we were issuing industrial hemp licenses and so that has been brought to light. There are actually thirty-six industrial hemp licenses that have been issued of which only one since 2017 because that's when the law was introduced, only one of those thirty-six licenses is actually up and running and so we are taking a close look at the regulations and the criteria to qualify an individual or a company to be able to grow hemp in the country and it also means that we have to take a comprehensive look at it because what is a very little known fact about industrial hemp is that it cannot grow alongside cannabis."

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Marty Offline OP
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Hemp That Gets You High on Pure Potential

The Hemp Industry is just beginning to bloom in Belize - but for one farmer, his hemp blooms are almost ready for harvest. He is the only one of 36 people with hemp licenses who have ventured into the industry to begin growing the multi-purpose plant.

And now, he - and the Ministry of New Growth Industries - have high hopes for it - but not that kind of high!

In fact, as Courtney Menzies saw first hand today, hemp gives no high, unless you get a high from the possibilities of a new cash crop.

Here's the story from Valley of Peace:

As the Ministry of New Growth Industries gets ready to harness the hemp industry as an engine of growth, one farmer has a headstart. Cesar Godinez from Belize Tropical Hemp Company Limited began growing his hemp plants four months ago after careful research. Now, he's awaiting the harvest and the diverse possibilities of this potential-rich plant.

Cesar Godinez, Owner, Belize Tropical Hemp Co Limited
"We've had the hemp farm from over a year now but because of the pandemic we didn't start investing in the farm. But the hemp industry was one of the fastest growing industries in the world right now and for Belize it's gonna be good economically and we would be able to provide a lot of jobs for local Belizeans working in the farms and factories and so. I think it's gonna be really good for Belize."

Hemp is not to be confused with marijuana, though. Godinez explained that a lot of people think he's growing the illegal stuff, but he explains that both plants are different and that hemp can't get you high.

Cesar Godinez, Owner, Belize Tropical Hemp Co Limited
"The difference between hemp and marijuana is that the THC level in hemp is 0.3%. the psychoactive ingredient that gives people a high is very low. What happens is that the THC level goes down and the CBD level is high in the hemp. In marijuana, the THC level is more than 7%. That is the psychoactive ingredient that gives people a high and the CBD level is very low."

But while it sounds lucrative, it's a lot of work - and money. Godinez told us that he farms organically, which is expensive to keep up, and on top of that, one imported hemp seed costs two US dollars. But the cost is just the beginning.

Cesar Godinez, Owner, Belize Tropical Hemp Co. Limited
"First you need to buy your seeds and the seeds are from the US, you have to get a permit through BAHA to buy the seeds, the seeds have to be less than 3% THC. Prepare the land is the most difficult part if its primary rainforest it's a lot of work to get the land to look like this. You need to do green houses, this is a plant that's not domestic to Belize so you have to do some research on it before you start plant. It's a very expensive plant to plant as well."

And if you're wondering how Godinez is able to finance this project, well, it wasn't through a bank. He told us that he has tried that route, but most banks are too concerned of de-risking to risk it.

Cesar Godinez, Owner, Belize Tropical Hemp Co Limited
"I'm a local contractor and I've been in the tourism business for over 14 years so everything that we've saved throughout our years of building for people and being in the tourism industry, we decided to put it into the hemp industry."

Courtney Menzies:
"So you finance yourself basically?"

Cesar Godinez, Owner, Belize Tropical Hemp Co Limited
"Yeah, hemp is self finance because no banks won't lend you any money or even open a bank account for you."

But it's an investment worth making for this farmer, and he plans to help Belize both economically and environmentally.

Cesar Godinez, Owner, Belize Tropical Hemp Co Limited
"Our main goal is to make paper products. The idea started - I'm in the tourism industry and we see a lot of a garbage all over the country and with this, the hemp plant, it's a very beneficial plant because you can use the stalk to make fiber, paper, a lot of products from it and then from the flowers you get the medicinal part which is the oil, it's good for people who suffer from epilepsy, stress, muscles soreness, and that's the medicinal part of the hemp."

"We want this to be a local company and help all the other small farmers, if they're planting we would be able to buy their hemp products from them. If they're planting for fiber, if they're planting for oil, our company would be able to process the oil for them and even purchase it from them and process the fiber for them so that we can make our paper products for domestic use and for export."

Godinez currently has 5,000 plants in the ground, and 10,000 in his nursery. He plans to start building two more green houses and eventually have 40,000 plants.

The Ministry of New Growth Industries will be assisting Godinez will the paperwork for the establishment of his factory.

Channel 7

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