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First fiber processing facility goes online in Western Australia

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A hemp fiber processing facility has gone online in Western Australia, a first-of-its-kind facility in the Australian state.

Backed by a AU$399,000 (~US$300,000) grant through the state’s Value Add Agribusiness Investment Attraction Fund and Industrial Hemp Grants Scheme, the facility, developed by Margaret River Hemp Processing (MRHP), is designed to turn locally grown hemp straw into building materials, textiles and other straw-derived products.

MRHP said it sees markets in hempcrete masonry for home building, horse and pet bedding, and hydro mulch. Fiber turned out by the factory is suitable for insulation and mattress padding.

Home building

Husband-and-wife owners Gary Rogers and Georgina Wilkinson also have a hemp construction company, Hemp Homes Australia (HHA), which has used material processed at the MRHP facility to build seven hemp houses in Margaret River. HHA received a South-West Housing Industry Association GreenSmart Award for one of its builds last year.

WA Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan, who attended a recent grand opening of the new fiber factory, said such facilities can spark job growth. “Local processing is critical to drive the emerging hemp industry; it makes hemp a more valuable cropping option,” she added.

Wilkinson and Rogers have been in the hemp industry since taking ownership of Margaret River Hemp Co. in 2001.

Wilkinson is a founding member of the Industrial Hemp Association of Western Australia, which she served as chairperson from 2018-2020. She is currently Vice President of the national Australian Industrial Hemp Association.

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