Birthed from a plant species known as Cannabis sativa, Industrial Hemp has been used in the manufacturing of numerous consumer and industrial products.
Interestingly, industrial hemp (iHemp) is one of the earliest forms of domesticated plants known to humankind. More than 30 nations grow fiber and seed oil which comes from iHemp. Some of the most common uses of iHemp include the production of textiles, biodegradable plastics, paper, food, and healthcare products. It should be noted that the steady growth of iHemp may also be beneficial for millions of farmers in India, for the sustainable crop has the potential to be useful in the production of over 25,000 products.
In recent years, many countries have begun legalizing the 10,000 year old crop, subsequent to considering the innumerable benefits that come with the incorporation of iHemp in a growing economy. India is also working on a successful model and is evolving as a leader amongst the developing nations, fervently working towards the revitalization and growth of the age-old crop in the country.
With the ability to produce tons of oxygen and the requirement of very little to no pesticides to grow, realistically hemp can replace many potentially harmful products that lead to most of the destruction caused in an ecosystem, such as floods, deforestation, and growth of materials that do not easily decompose.
It is important to note that hemp is NOT the same as marijuana. Marijuana is commonly known for its psychoactive effects that are mainly due to its high concentration of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). Hemp, although stemming from the same species of plant, has extremely low levels of THC. There is actually a limit on the amount of THC that a plant can hold in order to be cultivated and sold as hemp. This amount is so small that, even if you did smoke the plant, you would not experience any changes that may be considered a “high.” Both hemp and marijuana contain another cannabinoid known as CBD (cannabidiol). This compound has gained immense popularity in recent years due to numerous documented health benefits. CBD has been shown to be beneficial in disease from epilepsy to cancer. It can decrease anxiety as well as joint pains. Hemp has a much higher CBD concentration than the marijuana plant.
The Hemp Impact
Benefits to Farmers
The hemp crop is undeniably strong and can thrive on a wide range of soil types and climates. Requiring little or next to no irrigation, the crop comes from the same plant family as marijuana, the same way cauliflower and broccoli belong to the same plant family.
Industrial hemp is versatile and can play a major role in thousands of applications in a multitude of industries. So, to speak, in a growing economy like that of India’s where 50% of the total population is dependent upon agriculture for livelihoods, farmers will reap a host of benefits from its production as it offers both- the convenience of growing and secure and durable employment.
100% biodegradable, Hemp can be recycled innumerable times. The growing process is faster, compared to the cultivation of other crops and the growing demand can also be met, without putting a stress on the environment. Since each of the plant parts and by-products are reusable in hemp, its processing is zero waste, which makes it ecologically sound.
Low pest/ herbicides requirement .
Unlike other crops, Hemp requires minimal or zero usage of pesticides and herbicides. Owning to the density of the canopy of its crops, hemp can naturally suppress undesired weeds.
Reduced carbon footprint
Hemp can help us reduce our carbon footprint. It’s fire resistant and can help remove 1.63 tons of Carbon Dioxide per ton of Hemp, which helps in a beneficial reduction of CO2 in the atmosphere.
A rainfall rate of 200mm over the first weeks of the growing season would be sufficient for the plants to thrive without being irrigated at all. Mature plants are highly resistant to drought and survive with very limited water.
Heavy metal resistance
A few studies in China have demonstrated that hemp is not affected in terms of fibre content and quality by heavy metals such as cadmium, lead, and nickel. Therefore, it would be possible to reclaim certain contaminated areas for the production of industrial hemp.
Across the globe, scientists have come up with considerable facts that state the absence of rainforests from the face of the earth within 100 years.
Hemp can be full grown in four months and therefore can replace trees as the ultimate source for raw material for paper. This way, we can save the existing trees, while growing more and more, without ever disturbing the ecological balance.
Hemp fuels do not cause acid rain and are as biodegradable as sugar. Hemp can be blended with diesel fuel in any ratio or used alone.
It has been estimated that an acre of hemp crop yields 1,000 gallons or 3,785 litres of fuel. Reliance on non-renewable fossil fuels would be reduced without even requiring the diesel engines in use to be modified.
Sustainable raw material for paper
While traditional wood-based paper can only be recycled 3 times, hemp can be recycled 7 to 8 times. What is important to note is that, hemp fibre can be utilized both for manufacturing and the recycling of paper. Its low lignin content, makes it easier for it to get turned into pulp faster and easier compared to a wood-based paper.
The many uses of hemp include food products, bio-plastics, auto and also the construction market. To elucidate, fibreboards made from hemp-based composites are stronger and lighter than those made from wood. The combination of hemp fibre and lime results in a sound and thermal-insulating material that exceeds concrete in quality. As strong as fiberglass, bio-based plastics can also be made from hemp fibre. Inclusion of hemp materials in the construction market can only help in waste reduction and increased work safety, to name a few.
Hemp has many more remarkable advantages. Its soft, natural color absorbs sustainable dyes with much ease. It can be mixed with a variety of man-made raw materials for a wide variety of textures and properties.
Once ready to wear, hemp clothing feels soft on the body, it’s mind-blowing insulation properties keeps the wearer warm in winter and cool all summer long.
Hemp, CBD oil and Health
Cannabidiol has been studied for its potential role in treating many health-related issues including anxiety and depression, which has become very common in today’s day and age.
It could also alleviate the many symptoms of cancer including nausea, vomiting, pain etc and can also provide relief from the side effects of chemotherapy. It has been proven as a cure for many heart-related diseases and is believed to be the best treatment for many neurological disorders due to its strong antioxidant properties. It can be an excellent alternative for arthritis pains and can also be used in the prevention of diabetes.