The cannabis plant has aided the progress of civilizations all over the world. Hemp was commonly used for a variety of purposes, including medicine and textile production. Industrial hemp, according to recent studies, has the ability to transform whole industries for the better. Developed countries are now taking steps and putting in place regulatory strategies to help the hemp industry grow quickly.
Hemp Plant in the Indian Context
Hemp is being rediscovered and used to promote new industries in India. India is a country where Hemp was once an integral part of society and played a role in ceremonies. Governments are rethinking industrial hemp and hemp farming policies in the context of state legislatures. They are taking proactive measures to encourage hemp production. The hemp industry has a lot of potentials to assist with the development of the cannabis industry.
The state of Uttarakhand has taken steps to reframe its industrial hemp programme, recently issuing the first-ever hemp cultivation licence. Hemp can now be used to make medicines, textiles, food, paper, and building materials, among other things.
The Uttarakhand government and private players are supporting a range of SHGs and farmer groups as part of a public-private partnership (PPP) model aimed at expanding the industry's size and reach. Notably, annual revenues from hemp textiles in Uttrakhand are expected to reach 240 crore rupees. While a farmer who grows hemp will earn about 1 lakh rupees per year from the sale of hemp.
Hemp and Cannabis cultivation is all the more appealing because they can grow on barren land. It needs little in the way of resources, such as water, to thrive.
What is Hemp Plant used for?
Hemp has a wide range of applications. It can be used to produce high-quality products at a lower cost and with greater efficiency than they are currently produced. Consider that hemp grown on a single acre of land can produce as much paper as four acres of land. Since trees on thousands of acres are felled each year to produce paper, such efficiency in paper production is critical. As a result, instead of felling millions of trees, hemp can be grown and used to make paper.
Another reason to grow hemp, particularly for paper production, is that paper made from hemp fibre can be recycled up to eight times. As compared to this, paper made from wooded trees can only be recycled three times. As a result, a single acre of hemp can yield four times the amount of paper as an acre of trees.
Hemp cultivation clearly leads to improved resource use and, as a result, increased societal prosperity.
Most Indian farmers are poor, which is why hemp cultivation would benefit them greatly because hemp can grow on barren land and needs very little energy to thrive. As a result, hemp can be grown for a low cost, making it suitable for Indian farmers to cultivate.
Today, there are ghost villages all over Uttarakhand. These villages have been deserted, and their previous residents have relocated to areas of the world with better economic opportunities. Allowing hemp to be grown, on the other hand, has led many of these villagers to return to their villages solely because growing hemp has provided them with a way to earn a living.
Not only has such in-migration provided villagers with a means of earning a living, but it has also relieved some of the pressure on larger cities to which the villagers had migrated in search of better opportunities. Farmers would also benefit from hemp cultivation because they would be able to survive in their village and have a much higher standard of living and savings rate than they would have had they been living and working elsewhere.
Hemp Fiber from Industrial hemp farming
Another reason to grow hemp is that the stem of the industrial hemp plant can be used to make tough hemp fiber. This is something that rural women in Himalayan villages have done for decades. Today, research has shown that hemp is a superior fibre. The hemp industry is helping to popularise hemp's innovative potential. Hemp fibre has antimicrobial, anti-fungal, and anti-inflammatory properties (to a degree). Hemp fabric is soothing, smooth, and comfortable to touch. Cannabis sativa has a low THC content (under 0.3%), complies completely with the NDPS Act's requirements. It has the ability to generate substantial economic growth in countries around the world.
Hemp Cultivation’s Potential to Change Indian Economy
Farmers can benefit from growing hemp because it can be used to make products like canvas. Hemp fibre is so closely associated with the canvas that the term "canvas" is derived from the word "cannabis." Hemp canvas and fibre, once produced, will have a wide range of applications, especially among the military. One explanation for this is that hemp canvas is resistant to ultraviolet light, fire, mildew, and insects. This makes it an ideal material for military canvas. In effect, the production of hemp canvas would aid in the growth of the domestic defence industry. Farmers who grow hemp will play a small role in the industry's development.
Notably, India's defence industry is one of the country's biggest, as well as one of the world's largest. When farmers produce for this industry, they are a small part of one of the world's largest industries. The method of refining hemp fibre to make it suitable for fabric production necessitates the use of advanced technology. As a result, research institutions and organisations all over the world are pouring money into R&D programmes to develop new processing processes and technologies to produce the best hemp fibre for industrial use. Once successful, such processes would help farmers who grow hemp.
Hemp can be used to make a fine and thin fibre of excellent toughness and consistency, which has a variety of applications in the textile industry and, as previously stated, has also been used by the military. Despite substantial ongoing studies to fully understand hemp's applications, its true scope has yet to be fully explored.
After years of controversy due to its incorrect association with marijuana, industrial hemp is making a comeback. THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) levels in industrial hemp flowers are usually between 0.2 and 0.3%, compared to 4% to 5% in marijuana. In fact, the NDPS (Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances) Act of 1985 states that cannabis with a THC content of less than 0.3% is allowed to be grown commercially as a right under the state list. Government-licensed bhang shops still exist in a few Indian states, such as Rajasthan and Orissa. Here, one may apply for a collector licence to harvest naturally growing crops that can then only be sold at these government-run shops. A study licence, on the other hand, can be applied for and obtained from anywhere in the United States.
Hemp could be a game-changer for a country that has been dealing with a water shortage and farmer suicides due to low yields. We could be the global leaders in this trillion-dollar cash crop, particularly because India's climate is so conducive to hemp development. Tarun Jami from GreenJams Infra says, "The biggest advantage with hemp is its sturdiness and the 'never say never attitude. Each year, despite the estate managements' valiant efforts at removing hemp 'infestation' in my neighbourhood, the plant comes back with an even bigger bang and a wider footprint. It is so resilient, it grows back right from the dead, and it literally poses no harm to its surroundings or the soil."
In summary, Cannabis, which has been seen as a dangerous substance for decades, is reclaiming some of its former glory and also glowing brightly in the hearts of many, as it did centuries ago.
What about other countries cultivating hemp?
Cannabis has a huge economic opportunity, and many countries, including Canada and China, have thriving hemp cultivation industries. Hemp is grown on more than 100,000 acres of land in Canada. Hemp processing provides thousands of jobs that support thousands of families in addition to supplying valuable material. As a result, the dual benefits of hemp fibre and other hemp extracts are complemented by the production of jobs and more efficient use of natural resources. Furthermore, rising hemp boosts the economy.
Hemp production in Canada has been very successful. There is little reason to assume that similar success cannot be replicated in India. India, like Canada, has plenty of land suitable for hemp cultivation. However, hemp production in India has the potential to have a greater economic effect on the country than it has in Canada. India is a developing country where the successful emergence of a completely new industry would have a great impact.
Furthermore, cannabis is deeply ingrained in Indian culture. Cannabis-based goods could easily generate revenue for Indian businesses both domestically and internationally.
Farmers who grow hemp would be one of the beneficiaries of increased exporters. Since India is still a developing country, it will take time for the Indian industry to adapt. It will take time to produce goods that meet international standards. However, Indians have a deep understanding of the Earth, climate, soil, and crops, and hemp cultivation is a natural outgrowth of that knowledge.
Farmers in India have a special bond with their land that is almost non-existent in other countries. Farmers in India will be able to cultivate this relationship and reap the benefits of increased personal income. It will also benefit the Indian industry and economy as a whole by cultivating hemp.