Hemp-food tasting will be a highlight of a public forum on Saturday in Lismore for people interested in growing, manufacturing or marketing hemp products.
The forum, featuring some of Australia’s leading hemp researchers and producers, will include information about applying for hemp licences, growing and processing hemp and hemp products.
The event on Saturday 23 June, from 10am to 12pm at the Fountain Room in Lismore City Hall, offers a timely opportunity for those wanting to get involved in the growing new industry to network with others interested in promoting it.
‘The hemp industry in the northern rivers is rapidly growing and there is now a shortfall of hemp fibre, spurred on by the establishment of a hemp building industry,’ leading hemp researcher Dr Keith Bolton said.
‘In addition, Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has supported the introduction of a range of hemp-seed food products, which, if accepted by the COAG Legislative and Governance Forum on Food Regulation, will further accelerate the expansion of the local hemp industry.
‘The northern rivers region is fortunate to have some of the industry’s leading hemp researchers, farmers and industry champions, who, in 2008, established Northern Rivers Hemp (NRH), a not-for-profit organisation aimed at supporting the local hemp industry. ‘Hemp is a highly versatile crop that has been cultivated for millennia. Grown in good conditions, hemp can yield around 12 tonnes of fibre and over a tonne of seed per hectare in 100–120-day cropping cycles.
‘Some 50,000 products can be made from hemp. Many are already being manufactured in Europe including building materials, ropes and cordage, paper, fabrics, a wide range of foods, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals, automobile panels and plastics. A few of these are also being manufactured in Australia; however, there is enormous scope for integrating hemp into existing industry.
‘Northern Rivers Hemp has initiated a roundtable discussion with the Department of Primary Industries to discuss the obstacles and challenges facing the NSW hemp industry, and there are moves to establish a national hemp representative body,’ Dr Bolton said.
Some of the more innovative hemp entrepreneurs in the northern rivers include Klara Marosszeky, who established a local hemp masonry industry, and Andrew Kavasilas, who is testing a range of hemp varieties suitable for seed production, recently featured in an episode of ABC TV’s Landline.