Hemp is the non-psychoactive cousin of the cannabis plant. It became a highly sullied name in the 20th century as lawmakers highlighted the unpleasant side of the crop and sought to curb hemp cultivation.
Now, hemp farming is making headlines again and is changing the face of agriculture across the world. It is creating new economic opportunities for farmers as they explore novel ways of using the crop to boost their income. With today’s advanced farming technologies, hemp is used to create a broad range of products, such as eco-friendly construction materials, biofuels, health products, and fiber.
A Crop With Immense Potential and Possibilities
Hemp cultivation in India is not a new concept. Hemp was an integral part of the agricultural landscape of the country in the past. The crop is now being rediscovered, and steps have been taken to promote the cultivation of hemp. The industry has vast potential and can be used by farmers as an alternate crop to improve their income in 2021 and beyond.
Hemp is the ideal crop for farmers practicing regenerative agriculture. Regular farming of hemp can
- Reverse climate change
- Improve soil fertility
- Reduce wastage of precious water waste
- Minimize pollution
- Enhance biodiversity
Hemp is an excellent crop for a positive environment. Unlike traditional crops, it does not need chemicals and also keeps carbon-absorbing elements in the soil alive. It sequesters carbon as it grows and continues to do so till the crop is harvested.
Indian lawmakers are stressing the need to reframe the industrial hemp policy to encourage farmers. Small-scale hemp farming has been started in many Indian states in recent times to give the industry a boost. Farmers are receptive to the concept of hemp farming, as they can benefit from the crop in multiple ways.
- Hemp can be harvested using half as much water is used for traditional crops, such as corn. Hemp grows easily in a wide variety of soils and temperatures.
- It does not require the use of pesticides or protective chemicals.
- The plant grows extremely fast and can reach a height of nearly 20 feet in three months.
How Can Hemp Farming Be a Game Changer for Farmers?
Indian farmers depend on seasonal rain to harvest their crops. With the water crisis being a perennial issue in the country, a large percentage of the small farmers have to live in penury for most of their lives as crop yield fails most of the time in the absence of any firm alternative water resource.
Hemp farming can dramatically change their situation for them. It can be the magic crop they need to improve their earnings and lead a dignified and financially stable life. Hemp production costs are significantly lower than the costs incurred in cultivating most traditional crops. Hemp can be cultivated even on barren land and can flourish with minimal resources and care.
Hemp Helps Improve Soil Quality
Hemp reconditions the land as it grows by adding nitrates, potassium, and other nutrients to the soil. Its taproots can help loosen soil and boost aeration as the roots can reach a depth of six feet or even more. As this action of the hemp crop brings nutrients closer to the surface, it can help in achieving better crop rotation for the following seasons.
The use of hemp seeds and leaves is permitted in India, making it easy for farmers to procure them without having to fear the legal implications. Hemp farmers can take advantage of the reframed hemp farming policies to make better profits and improve the quality of their life.
Hemp for Industrial Applications
Farmers can also make money by selling hemp as raw material for various industrial applications. Hemp, as a finished product, is softer and more durable than cotton. Hemp is unmatched as a substitute for paper and can offer sustainable paper packaging solutions for various industries.
Hemp can help in satisfying the demand for eco-friendly packaging across the world as its cultivation and use as a by-product can reduce dependence on trees for paper production. An acre of hemp can produce the equivalent of four acres of trees. Governments across the world can effectively mitigate the devastating effects of deforestation by promoting hemp paper packaging as an alternative to paper manufactured by deforestation.
Indian soil conditions are ideal for hemp farming. With 60% of the districts in India having natural, wild-grown cannabis, Indian farmers already know how to handle hemp. Besides, there is a strong cultural connection with the crop as well in the country. By following the hemp cultivation regulations, farmers can turn their lives around by turning their focus on this magic crop.