Is hemp our next Cinderella crop?

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In the April 17 issue of The Western Producer, the question was posed: “Will Canada ever develop another canola or deliver a discovery that revolutionizes global agriculture?”

I think the answer to that is an emphatic “yes,” and the crop that can do that is hemp: Cinderella 2.0.

Industrial hemp is quite possibly the most important plant on earth.

Its DNA structure is closely aligned with human DNA, so it offers protein, omegas and dietary fibre in perfect proportion to our nutritional needs.

Hemp is naturally gluten free, non-genetically modified, free of trypsin inhibitors, dairy free and virtually free of any form of residual chemicals.

Hemp protein is highly nutritious and easily digested, and hemp seed oil is cold pressed to retain all of its natural nutritional value. Hemp seed oil is a perfect balance of omega 3-6-9, which is ideally suited for optimal human nutrition.

The hemp plant also provides a strong, durable, long-lasting natural soft bats fibre. It has the characteristics to provide durable clothing, shelter, building materials and high-tech composite fibre applications.

Hemp has proven to be an excellent natural insulator and fire retardant. It has applications as a high quality pressboard material, hempcrete, composite and plastic substrate product.

The value of industrial hemp as a medicine remains undiscovered, but it contains important building blocks for an abundant source of medicinal applications based on early stage scientific testing and results.

Equally important are the agronomic advantages. Industrial hemp is environmentally friendly with low input requirements and beneficial returns to the soil and atmosphere.

It is an excellent rotation crop with a high return per acre, even without the huge investment in science and research experienced by other crop alternatives in Canada over the past decades, such as canola, flax and peas.

Is industrial hemp really the next canola? Could it replicate the phenomenal success and value to Canadian agriculture?

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Russ Crawford is president of the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance.