July 11, 2013 9:09 pm
Updated: July 12, 2013 4:58 pm

Growing interest in hemp production

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The amount of hemp being grown in Canada is rising with Alberta leading the way. Industrial hemp a multi-purpose crop.  Farmers need to be licensed by Health Canada before to grow it.

“I started growing hemp about six years ago with the interest of it being a super food,” said Rod Lanier.  “It is high in mega oils and all the essentials.”

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Lanier was speaking during a tour put on by the Alberta Biomaterials Development Centre.   Hemp Hearts, which are shelled hemp seeds with a highly concentrated balance of proteins, fats, vitamins and enzymes are a popular super food.

“It also can be very financially rewarding if we do everything right,” Lanier said. “It’s one of those higher end products that we can grow that’s a good to eat healthy product, good for the human body.”

There is also growing interest in hemp fiber and the many things it can be used for.  “They have started to use it for skateboards, dashboards for cars to make them biodegradable.  We are getting some interest from homebuilders, high end homebuilders who want a natural breathable wall out of a natural product.  Instead of using concrete and rebar they’re using hemp fibers.”   To make something called hempcrete.

The tour, which included people from Alberta Agriculture, industry and others was told one of the challenges the industry is facing is getting manufacturers to come to the province.

Lori-Jo Graham, development officer for the Biomaterials and Bio-Industrial Opportunities Branch of Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development said,  “We have very strong interest from an international company that has U.K. and U.S. Partners. They’re interested in pursuing processing and manufacturing here in the Taber, Lethbridge area.

She said Alberta Agriculture and Alberta Innovates Technology Futures are developing a comprehensive strategy for stability and growth in the industry.

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