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Sask. farmers learn about 'untapped' hemp possibilities
Published Wednesday, June 19, 2019 6:20PM CST Last Updated Tuesday, June 25, 2019 6:34PM CST
A new forum being held at the 2019 Farm Progress show in Regina is aimed at informing farmers about the possibilities of growing hemp.
Hemp seeds are used for food, as the protein in hemp contains all 20 amino acids, high in omega 3, 6, and 9. However, the plant can also be used in thousands of products including plastics, cosmetics and even for building products like blocks or drywall paneling.
"It’s a cannabis plant. But it's a cannabis plant that has under 0.3 per cent THC levels, so, not a lot of the psychoactive components in there,” NorQuest College Business Development Officer Andrea Eriksson said.
Farmers need an annual license in order to cultivate the plant, and must map out where exactly they will grow it.
"As of the last three or four years, it's become very popular here once again. And Saskatchewan has led the way in the last couple of years in terms of seeded area,” Special Crops Provincial Specialist Dale Risula said.
The United Nations has a working group that's pushing for Canada to produce more hemp, Risula said. Statistics Canada shows Saskatchewan had 162 licenses and registries for industrial hemp cultivation in 2018, with almost 11,000 hectares committed to the crop.
"As soon as customers know that it's more than just hemp hearts. Then that's really going to open up things,” Eriksson said,
Now, with changes to regulations for CBD oil in Canada, farmers can do more with the product than before.
"They’re able to do the cannabodials, which is the pharmaceutical applications. And then they’re able now to do more fiber processing. So, that opens up the textiles, plastics application on that side too … $10 an acre is what some have been quoting, but you do really need to negotiate with each of the private companies,” Eriksson said.
Hemp is a hearty crop that grows six centimeters a day and needs nitrogen rich soil. The field can't have standing water.
"There’s so many things ... And products aren't being made. It's untapped,” Eriksson said,
Rozula suggests that anyone looking into getting into hemp farming should establish a contract with someone who will buy the product first, because the market can get saturated quite quickly, meaning producers should sell fast.