FFNZ Grains Chair Welcomes Hemp Trials
Federated Farmers Grains Council Chairman, Neil Barton, today said he was delighted that some New Zealand Growers at last have the opportunity to undertake industrial hemp growing trials.
"The Federation began lobbying for the licensing of hemp trials back in 1998, said Mr Barton. Although the process has taken longer than anyone expected, we are very proud of the accomplishment and look forward to seeing some positive results."
FFNZ member John Wright, who farms near Methven in Mid-Canterbury is undertaking a hemp trial and feels that the data he will collect will be very valuable.
"The purpose of my trial, and others around New Zealand is to test the different varieties that are available around the world, and to see how they react to the conditions we have in New Zealand,' Mr Wright said.
"These trials will provide some much needed data for both farmers and regulatory agencies. If the trials are successful, the next step will be to determine the market potential."
Imports of hemp products into New Zealand are currently worth about one million dollars annually and this figure is growing. However, Mr Wright thinks the real potential lies in exports.
"There is some potential to supply domestically, but we would like to compete in niche markets overseas."
"The trials will be harvested for both the seed and fibre. Hemp seed has a number of different uses of which hemp seed oil is currently the most valuable."
Hemp seed oil is high in essential fatty acids, is flavourful and nutritious. Refined it a can be used for skin care products, paints and even industrial uses. Once the oil has removed from the seed, the meal, which still contains ¼ protein, can then be used as a high fibre dietary supplement for human or animal consumption.
Hemp fibre is one of the world's most versatile natural fibres. Its long fibres can be woven into textiles ranging from soft, linen-like fabric to durables such as sails, tarps and floor coverings.
New Zealand arable farmers, who are accustomed to searching out overseas niche markets, will be looking forward to the ability to cultivate a crop with such a wide range of uses.