This is a Gutsy vision for the evolution of the Australian Industrial Hemp industry - a vision that could take the industry from a niche industry to a world leader. Our guest is Robert Bell the founder and organiser of the Australian Industrial Hemp Conference. He not only shares his knowledge about the wide range of uses of industrial hemp but also the products that are the fastest and easiest to manufacture that would have the highest demand and greatest positive environmental impact. If you are interested in natural, environmentally sustainable hemp solutions for replacing tonnes of plastic then this is a must listen episode of the Gutsy Matters Podcast.
According to Robert Bell, Australia is the only country in the world that can grow Hemp 365 days a year! We have the perfect opportunity to become world leaders in Industrial Hemp - we just need to build the processing facilities. We talked with Georgina Wilkinson about Growing the capacity of the Australian Industry several episodes ago. Expanding that conversation in this episode Robert proposes a first stage Hemp Fibre textile solution that would create a viable product which would replace a high volume polypropylene product and be a profitable first stage production process for other Hemp products.
At the moment Australian production teeters on a balance of processing ability to create demand for Industrial Hemp Production and vice versa. While we have the land and machinery for cultivation of Hemp we need the processing ability to expand the industry to its full capacity.
Well, Hemp could sustainably produce food, fibre and fabric that could be made into all things imaginable such as homes, kayaks, surfboards, caravans, musical instruments, car construction, bedding, textiles, body care products, beer, spirits and foods. Even batteries and sustainable fuels.
Hemp plants are wonderful for rejuvenating and reclaiming damaged lands. Robert talks about the hemp growing naturally providing habitat for wildlife in the Chernobyl area and recent use of Hemp on mining sites, especially for the plants ability to sequester carbon.
Hemp could also be used to re-build rural communities by growing industrial hemp crops and building facilities for hemp processing in the same region. Because crops are fast growing and in the perfect conditions it can be grown in the same field three times in one year. Robert talks about some of the new technologies that are making separation during processing of hemp fibres easier and faster.
The potential for the Australian Industrial Hemp Industry is really only limited by our drive and imagination. The current issue of the Queensland Country Life features the story of young businessmen capturing the opportunity for growing Industrial Hemp Seed.
It all comes down to the cannabinoids, particularly THC. Both Industrial Hemp and Medicinal Hemp, commonly known as Cannabis, are varieties of Cannabis - much like broccoli and cauliflower are both members of the brassica family. One major defining characteristic of Medicinal Hemp is its high levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) whereas, industrial hemp has very low levels, less than 1%, and is grown under an Industrial Hemp Licence that each state or territory government regulates. Hemp foods (hemp seed oil and hulled hemp seeds) from the Industrial Hemp varieties have nutritional and therapeutic properties but not medicinal properties.