Aussie hemp stakeholders entice financial services firms

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While talks aimed at stakeholders interested in the full range of whole plant hemp applications are on tap at this year’s Australian Industrial Hemp Conference Feb. 25-28 in Freemantle, organizers say those representing the financial sectors in the Australasian region also have much to gain by attending.

“They can get in on the ground floor and generate new contacts in an industry that will boom,” said Charles Kovess, one of the event’s organizers. “This is not just a conference for farmers and agronomists, as the economics of hemp also will be discussed,” Kovess noted, suggesting the gathering offers financial services providers a chance to position themselves as advisers to stakeholders in the burgeoning industry just as it gets rolling.

Domestic market expanding

Though hemp has long been cultivated in Australia, with raw materials and finished goods exported to countries like Japan, the USA and Korea, hemp producers are now expanding in their own domestic market, estimated at AUS $13 million in seed and straw production alone. Estimates are for a four-fold increase overall in the coming years driven mainly by the new food and CBD sectors as Australia classified hemp as food only as late as November 2017 following 15 years of efforts by stakeholders.

The State of South Australia alone has said it is expecting a farm gate value of $3 million per annum from hemp within the next few years under state industrial hemp guidelines from the SA Manufacturing and Innovations Ministry. And as the region within Australia growing the most hemp currently, Tasmanians want to expand on whole-plant-use while also building on their proven experience growing for medicinal products, as the state already is licensed to grow poppies for pharmaceutical firms (resulting in a $290 million poppy industry).

Wide range of topics

The second biennial Australian hemp gathering is to feature as many as 40 speakers who will talk about hemp farming and processing, and cover hemp’s full potential for such sectors as medicine, fuel, composites, food, textiles & fashion, construction, fertilizer, health & beauty, and eco-friendly packaging. Organizers say up to 400 attendees are expected for the conference, to be held at Freemantle’s historic Esplanade Hotel.

Among international speakers for the event:

Mike McGuire, Canada, Director of Medical Access and Specialized Authorizations within the Cannabis Legalization and Regulation Branch at Health Canada who’ll talk about “Canada’s approach to the regulation of industrial hemp and cannabis for medical purposes.” McGuire currently leads the team responsible for the implementation of Canada’s medical cannabis access program.

Sun Yufeng from China’s Heilongjiang Academy of Sciences, who’ll present “Humans and Hemp – A New Age of Health.” As Dean of the Academy’s Daqing branch, China’s leading research institute on flax and industrial hemp breeding and cultivation techniques, he leads a research team working to develop low-THC hemp varieties. His team has also developed new thin layer chromatography (TLC) rapid detection technology.

Malgorzata Zimniewska, Director of Poland’s Institute of Natural Fibers & Medicinal Plants, who’ll discuss “Potential of Industrial Hemp in Poland – Challenges and Opportunities.” Zimniewska is researching the development of “pro-health textiles.” She also serves as Vice-Chair of Quality Control for the European Commission Research Executive Agency for Future and Emerging Technologies as well as other industry bodies related to natural textiles.

Featured local speakers slated to address the conference are Alannah MacTiernan, Western Australia’s Minister for Regional Development and Agriculture and Food; and Michael Robertson, Science Director of the Agriculture and Food Department within the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australia’s scientific research agency.

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