Abrain trust focused on development of value-added markets for flax and hemp fibre will get a federal investment of $9.6 million. The Natural Fibres for the Green Economy Network (NAFGEN), led by Flax Canada 2015, is meant to connect “top researchers, industry and producers” to help create more industrial value chains by improving fibre crop varieties, technologies and processes, and by improving the products and chemicals made from said fibre crops and their “associated residue.”
“Working as a team affords the best opportunity for the industry to develop new and improved technology and products for both flax and hemp fibre, thereby enhancing the value of these two crops,” said Barry Hall, president of Flax Canada 2015, in a federal government release March 25.
Flax Canada 2015 is an initiative of the Flax Council of Canada, set up to support the value-added sector for flax with an eye on “whole-crop utilization” – that is, putting the entire plant to food, feed, fibre, health, and/or industrial use.
NAFGEN, the government said, is “working towards breeding better varieties of flax and hemp, and they’re solving problems with harvesting, processing, storage, transportation and grading.”
Among the partners in NAFGEN are the Composites Innovation Centre Manitoba, Manitoba Zero Tillage Research Association and Parkland Crop Diversification Foundation.
The government’s funding for NAFGEN will flow through its Agricultural Bioproducts Innovation Program (ABIP), which backs research networks that include universities, industry and government to streamline research, development and commercialization of bioproducts and bioprocesses.