Grow your own hemp industry

hemp
China’s insatiable demand for iron ore has been the basis for Western Australia’s booming export industry, but another natural resource has been making its way to the East.
According to Nimbin-based hemp researcher and grower Klara Marosszeky, a Western Australian hemp grower is exporting all of his crop to China, including a contract to supply the Chinese military. The military are using the material to create “hemp food packs” that include hemp milk, hemp chocolate, hemp cake, hemp coffee and hemp protein powder amongst other food products.
“You can use the meal like flour. It was used by most cultures of the world in the last century,” she said.
Ms Marosszeky is hoping that a hemp-based food industry will be a reality in Australia within a few years, but at the moment the authority that regulates the food industry, FSANZ (Food Standards Australia New Zealand), does not allow any hemp food products to be sold here.
“The industry is ready to grow and we think we will be growing it for food, either for local production or for export to meet the growing world food crisis,” she said.
This week the NSW Parliament passed legislation allowing for the licensing of industrial hemp to be grown in this state for the first time.
“Industrial hemp has the potential to provide farmers with a much-needed additional fast growing summer crop option that can be used in rotation with winter grain crops,” NSW Minister for Primary Industries Ian Macdonald said. “It’s a potentially lucrative industry due to the environmentally friendly nature of (it) and there is strong interest for hemp products in the market.”
Klara Marosszeky held a workshop last weekend for 15 local growers to assist them to fill out the licence application forms and she is hoping they will be planting within weeks.
“Farmers are growing for a couple of different reasons; some are growing to develop a seed base for the Northern Rivers region because that’s the only way we can keep the price of seed reasonable. A few will be growing for the natural fibre industry, and the Regional Development Corporation is also working with Southern Cross University and the Northern Rivers Hemp Association to do seed research with the long term view of developing a good eating variety.”
However, Klara’s main interest and speciality is hemp masonry – using hemp fibre with a mixture of lime-based materials to create a building material.
“This year we’re hoping to get investment to get a bagging and batching facility in the region to produce a dry mix in one tonne bulk bags for the affordable housing market,” she said. “I’ve been talking with the Northern Rivers Regional Development Board who have supported my work through the innovation award process.”
Some previous trials of growing hemp in cane growing areas on the North Coast have been less than successful, so one of the other things Klara is hoping to do is to plant a “a wet footed cultivar”.
“We’ve got all sorts of cultivars from all over world… cultivars being worked on by Dr Keith Bolton and myself. For example we’ve got seeds in from Canada which give you height, European ones that are good for food, and Hungarian ones that give a combination of food and fibre suitable for textiles.”
http://www.echonews.com/index.php?page=News%20Article&article=24434&issue=375

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