Recognition for Australia’s emerging industrial hemp industry has come with Australian Government support for a hemp-processing initiative.
Industry pioneers in two states will use the $80,000 funding from the national Farm Co-operatives and Collaboration pilot program, known as Farming Together, to establish a processing co-operative.
Made in Hemp Allied Processing will also be seeking to raise capital and will issue a growers’ prospectus. The group is led by principals Darius Dunn from Made in Hemp in NSW and Lyn Stephenson, president of the Industrial Hemp Association of Victoria.
Darius said: “The industry needs sophisticated processing facilities and assured supply. With those two factors, industrial hemp could be the source of beneficial products such as plant-based protein and health-boosting omega supplements. Hemp has an incredible nutritional profile which is highly bio-available, it is both lactose and gluten-free and is an excellent ingredient in many foods.”
Other applications could range from building materials to textiles and medicinal products, he added.
Made in Hemp is the only supplier to the two largest health food distribution companies in Australia.
“We have been exclusively importing and distributing premium Canadian hemp seeds, oil and protein and have been instrumental in developing a hemp industry in Australia for more than 10 years. In that time we have seen greater understanding internationally,” he said. “And it is slowly catching on in Australia.”
Challenges facing the industry include capacity, infrastructure and differences in State laws concerning hemp farming, he said.
Darius said: “Currently, most hemp seed products are imported – there is minimal production in Australia because of the lack of infrastructure and expertise. This project will establish a network of farmers who will be supplied seedstock and educated on hemp agronomy and who will supply grain to a proposed vertically-integrated processing facility for packaging and sale, for both domestic and export markets.
“This funding offers recognition for what this industry has achieved up to now and what it will achieve in the future.”
The industry had a major achievement this year with food regulator FSANZ announcing the change in hemp food legislation taking effect in November 2017.
“Together with an incredible demand from our neighbours in south-east Asia there has never been a better time for Australia to get on board as a major supplier,” he said.