Tassie the hemp capital

TASMANIA for the past six years has grown the majority of Australia’s industrial hemp crop and Launceston will host the national conference later this month.

Most hemp seeds, hemp oil or hemp beauty products on sale in the big supermarkets, originated in Tasmania.

The third national Australian Industrial Hemp Conference will be held March 22-25 at the Country Club, Launceston hosted by Tasmanian Hemp Association.

THA president Tim Schmidt said hemp farmers, CSIRO scientists, university and state government researchers, agronomists, processors and product developers from the US, Canada, New Zealand and from all around Australia will gather to explore ideas.

“A series of workshops are being hosted for smaller groups of key industry stakeholders on the day before the official start of the two-day conference,” Mr Schmidt said.

Hemp is a variety of the cannabis plant, is not a drug, with less than one per cent of the psychoactive compound (THC).

Hemp was a highly valued crop for thousands of years until the early 20th Century, when it was mistakenly caught up in the prohibitions for “weed”.

For almost 100 years, most of the world missed out on hemp’s huge range of environmental and health benefits until now.

Industrial hemp farming is legalised in all Australian states, AgriFutures Australia, as part of the AgriFutures Industrial Hemp Program, and the Tasmanian Government are backing it because as an emerging industry with huge potential.

AgriFutures Australia senior manager for emerging industries, Dr Olivia Reynolds, said the potential for industrial hemp in Australia is enormous.

Event manager Andi Lucas said including nutritional and beauty products, hemp fibre is now being made into all things imaginable such as textiles, building materials, kayaks, surfboards, caravans, musical instruments, bedding, batteries, biofuels and in car construction.

“Hemp seed is used to add nutritional value and flavour to spirits like gin and rum, and beer,” Ms Lucas said.

Hemp seeds are highly valued as a complete source of plant protein and essential fatty acids.

And there is scientific evidence that the non-hallucinogenic CBD compound in hemp is therapeutic.

“Every part of the hemp plant can be used, including the waste stalks which are processed into a fire resistant and insulating building material called “hempcrete’, already being used around Tasmania for eco-housing.

“Cannabis is also an incredibly strong, fast-growing crop that is naturally resistant to pests and weeds crops, regenerating the soils it grows in, while absorbing four times more carbon than trees.”

Workshop participants will have the opportunity to have in-depth discussions with industry leaders and peers on a range of topics including carbon farming, hemp agronomy, setting up co-ops and hemp building, with the option to end the day at a Hemp Gin making and tasting session.

Conference manager Andi Lucas “After the conference concludes, an educational field day on March 25 will give a limited number of the 400 expected attendees and invited guests a rare chance to view this amazing plant in the paddock at full maturity and to observe mechanical harvesting and the processing of seed and stalk.”

Field Day participants will then enjoy a gourmet long-table lunch on the magnificent lawns of luxury country estate, The Granary, Richmond Hill.

Conference founder Robert Bell said hemp can be the economic, environmental and ethical solution for many of our world’s problems.

The conference, hosted by THA, is supported by Tasmanian Government, AgriFutures Australia, Australian Hemp Council, Australian Industrial Hemp Alliance, Launceston BMW, ECS Botanics, Levi Strauss & Co, Midlands, Business Events Tasmania and City of Launceston.

Tickets for the workshops, conference, and field trip must be pre-purchased.

Visit australianindustrialhempconference.com.