Interviews

Worth a trillion dollar market: HEMP

What we generally know of weed/hemp is actually petite. It indeed is much more than just a green leaf or narcotic product. Hemp has numerous uses but is a victim of years of criticism. India has always worshipped the leaf and also it is a pristine element and part of its culture and traditional values, it was only in the late 1980s that this plant gathered all the ill-adjectives on the Indian land. Internationally hemp is categorised as an industrial product with Psychoactive properties of about 0%. 

In an interview with Agriculture World, IIHA, Indian Industrial Hemp Association founder, Mr. Rohit Sharma explains, “Level of THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, the chemical responsible for most of marijuana's psychological effects in hemp is 0.3% as compared to Marijuana where it is of about 4%, which makes Hemp and Marijuana two different affairs. There are plethora of products that can be made from a single plant. Every part of it can be used to make things of utmost importance in our daily lives.” Showing the canvas made from hemp, he explains, the word, “canvas” is derived from the word “Cannabis” which was the most preferred material to make the painting canvases once. The cloth that is prepared from the cannabis is so strong that the military men used it to make their super strong tents from this material. “ 

Every part of this plant has salutary and wholesome uses. Starting with the stem to the leaves, from seeds to flower, each part is used for multiple uses. The flowers of the hemp are used for medicinal purposes concurrently the stem is an excellent source for fiber. Rohit Sharma says, Indian Hemp market is a trillion dollar market, if India enters in this segment exhaustively, India will dominate.” Commenting on the role of IIHA that it plays to connect the hemp farmers of India Mr. Sharma says,” Farmers are the backbone of the dream that we are dreaming of, currently IIHA is helping the farmers technically with information and knowledge of how to grow it, about the soil quality it demands and the treatment it should receive for the best productivity. It is not a wild plant when you farm it, we need to give it proper care and there are requisites for the proper growth of the plant. With an investment of about 50-60 k, a farmer can easily earn upto 3.5/4 lakh in 3-4 months which will upgrade the economical conditions of the farmers. Being a robust plant, it clamours for minimum water needs and no strict watch is needed after it reaches the length of 1 feet. ” 

Talking about the available breeds of hemp, Mr Sharma tells, “There are about 1000 varieties of hemp located only in India, the type and size varies from region to region. In Himalayan region of Himachal Pradesh, there are gigantic species which touches the sky with height upto 15 ft. Moving down to Madhya Pradesh, the length of the plant shrinks but are abundant with seeds, similarly travelling to different topography and climate, has different types of hemps available. Akin to this, the usages vary, the longer weed plants are brilliant source of fibre and the one rich in seeds are great for making food products. 

“About 30,000 products can be made from hemp. Fibre and hence clothes, biodegrade paper, anti termite wood, cosmetic products,  bio plastic, construction material, drinks as Hemp flavored beer are included in the list among several other products. It is also used as animal feed and it used to cure diseases like cancer, epilepsy, dementia etc. 

The global market is exploring this plant in numerous ways. Countries like Israel, Germany, the USA, London, and Spain are undergoing several research programs. China dominates the hemp market with about 70% of contribution.

Various countries in the world are already discovering the industries from hemp. Canada is one such country which has legalized cannabis in all forms since 1977. Though India is moving ahead, with the recent Uttarakhand govt.’s notification on legalizing the cultivation of cannabis, it was a small step since only leaves and stem are legalized, it would still take some time before the entire plant is legalized in India. 


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