13 Feb 2004

ADB recommends Fiji cane growers turn to hemp

9:28 am on 13 February 2004

The Asian Development Bank has recommended that people forced out of Fiji's ailing sugar industry when it's restructured turn to growing a form of marijuana known as industrial hemp.

Fiji TV says the recommendation is part of the ADB's report on alternative livelihoods for farmers and cane cutters forced to leave the sugar industry.

But the report, prepared for the ADB by Lincoln International Limited of New Zealand, says industrial hemp cultivation can only begin after Fiji's Dangerous Drugs Act is amended because the crop is currently illegal.

Industrial hemp has very low levels of THC, the chemical which causes addiction to marijuana, and is used to manufacture high-value fabric, paper and oil.

Fiji's Agriculture Minister, Jonetani Galuinadi, says the government has yet to consider the report.

But cane farmers have already expressed serious reservation, saying it will cause more problems and the government should instead consider cane by-products such as ethanol.