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Boost for European hemp cultivation through increasing demand for hemp products
Hemp cultivation areas in Europe will expand from 8,000 ha in 2011 to almost 25,000 ha in 2016, which shows a triple increase in 5 years. The reason is the growing demand for different raw materials obtained from this outstanding multi-purpose crop.
Hemp fibres are used in the automotive industry as well as in insulation and speciality paper production. They are particularly well established as material for natural fibre composites (NFC) used for the reinforcement of automotive interior parts. Due to their huge potential in light-weight construction, the demand for NFC has been growing continuously. Whereas exotic natural fibres from Asia are suffering from limited availability because of the local competition with food crops and temporary export bans, European hemp fibres can meet increasing demands – if the demand is communicated before the sowing time in March.
Hemp seeds are becoming an important factor in both functional and supplement food industries. In 2015, hemp food products entered the mainstream market and were produced by well-known companies. Farmers in more and more European countries are discovering hemp as an alternative crop for the production of hulled hemp seeds, protein powder and oil with high nutritional value. Hemp seed is a nutritional powerhouse and is highly digestible. Its oil has an excellent fatty acid spectrum, it has the “almost perfect” balance of the omega-3 and -6 essential fatty acids plus the presence of two “higher” omega-3 and -6 fatty acids, stearidonic acid (SDA) and gamma linoleic acid (GLA), the share of unsaturated fatty acids is incredible 90%. The protein includes all 21 amino acids providing minerals, Vitamin E and is high in dietary fibre.
In addition, the hemp crop produces Cannabidiol (CBD), a food supplement with therapeutic potential, which does not have any psychoactive effects. Many companies are globally investing in hemp as natural drug; this new natural medicine could reach at least a similar significance as valerian.
The German company and EIHA member “Hanf Farm GmbH” is the first hemp producer worldwide to receive the “International Sustainability and Carbon Certification (ISCC PLUS)” for their hemp raw material “Hemp flower” and “Hemp nuts”. More certifications for different hemp products will follow this year, including those for the fibre.
The European Industrial Hemp Association (www.eiha.org) is the organisation of the European Hemp Industry. It represents cultivators, processors, producers and traders as well as scientists. In January 2016, the new president of EIHA was elected by online voting. John Hobson, GW Pharmaceuticals (UK), was re-elected President. Mark Reinders, HempFlax (NL/RO), was elected Deputy President for the first time and Bernd Frank, PlanetChanvre/Bave (FR/DE), was re-elected Treasurer.
The largest conference on industrial hemp worldwide will take place in Wesseling, near Cologne (Germany) on the 1st and 2nd of June 2016: 13th International Conference of the European Industrial Hemp Association. Like last year, more than 250 participants from 40 different countries as well as 30 exhibitors are expected: www.eiha-conference.org/...
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