Province releases national hemp strategy with industry partners

Manitoba’s reputation as a leader in the hemp industry is being reinforced with a national hemp strategy that identifies new opportunities for farmers, processors, researchers and exporters, Agriculture Food and Rural Initiatives Minister Rosann Wowchuk announced Nov. 12.

“Manitoba’s farmers and processors are at the leading edge of hemp production,” said Wowchuk. “We are among the earliest adopters of this new crop and the processing technologies needed to create valuable end products. This new strategy shows how far we’ve come while also identifying the opportunities and challenges that we must tackle for sustainable growth.”

Hemp can be used in a wide range of consumer and industrial applications. The National Industrial Hemp Strategy identifies the opportunities and challenges in three categories: health and food, fibre and industrial oil, and production and breeding.

“In the last 10 years, the Canadian hemp industry has grown from an emerging niche market to a point where we are now being recognized as a global leader in hemp production,” said Mike Fata, chair of the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance (CHTA). “With the province’s support, this hemp strategy has given us a road map to new opportunities and the continued growth of the hemp industry in Canada.”

The strategy was introduced at the CHTA’s annual meeting in Winnipeg recently. It focuses on the supports needed to grow the industry across Canada including:

Accessing risk capital for processing and manufacturing projects;

Researching domestic and international hemp markets and continued market access;

Quantifying the environmental and economic advantages of using hemp-based products as compared to fossil fuel-based products;

Researching hemp varieties that will meet Canadian needs, on-farm best management practices and processing technologies;

Pursuing regulatory approvals to allow hemp nutrients in animal feed and treats;

Developing commercial hemp-fibre processing;

Creating fibre-grading standards to provide consistent quality;

Establishing cost-effective hemp oil processing systems; and

Creating a national industry voice to promote the interests of hemp stakeholders on these issues.

These recommendations were developed through extensive consultations with stakeholders including farmers, processors, marketers and researchers across Canada. The strategy is a joint initiative supported by the federal and provincial governments, the CHTA and the Composites Innovation Centre. Funding was provided by Manitoba Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives and Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada through the Agri-Food Research and Development Initiative.

The market for hemp products is strong and growing in Canada and internationally. Canadian hemp seed exports increased 300 per cent from 2006 to 2007. Hemp oil exports increased 85 per cent and fibre exports increased 65 per cent over the same time frame.

Wowchuk noted this strategy will be shared between provincial governments, hemp industry groups and other stakeholders across Canada to guide future initiatives and investments.

Earlier this fall, the provincial government announced $4 million in provincial loans and grants to kick-start the development of a world-class hemp facility in Dauphin as part of its ongoing commitment to a strong hemp industry in the province.

Hemp is a natural fibre product from the cannabis sativa plant and has been used for thousands of years for rope, canvas, paper, clothing and industrial products. It is an environmentally friendly choice for consumers because it is a renewable resource and creates very little waste. All parts of the hemp plant, including the fibre, seed and grain, can be used. More information about industrial hemp production is available at www.gov.mb.ca/agriculture/crops/hemp/bko01s00. html and www.hemptrade.ca.

The national hemp strategy is available from the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance at www.hemptrade.caor [email protected] trade.ca.

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