Across the world there have been calls for legalizing the use of cannabis with many countries especially USA, Canada and other European countries having already gone ahead and approved it for medicinal use and in many cases also for recreational use.
Now it is the relatively unknown cousin (industrial hemp) of Cannabis that is slowly getting investor’s attention.
Industrial Hemp is derived from the same family of Cannabis (often referred to as Marijuana or Ganja) but has different properties. It is from the very cannabis plant that the flowers are used to extract ganja while the stem (straw) has industrial applications to it. Products from Hemp like seeds, oil, fiber are expected to be a multi-Billion dollar industry in a few years. ‘While India is still grappling with the rules, the US, Chinese and European governments have already legalized farming on hemp as long as the THC is below .3%’ says Mr Pradeep Sabharwal founder T3T Wellness Private Limited a company engaged in promotion of alternative medical therapies based on AYUSH and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Mr Sabharwal an early investor in this industry informs that THC (the psychoactive compound) is much higher in the marijuana plant.
In the state of AP the Araku and Paderu regions are where this plant is found to be in abundance. However because of Cannabis’s illicit demand most of the farmers often get caught for illegally selling Ganja while neglecting the properties that the stem has to offer.
Identifying this opportunity, Bangalore based company, NHempCo is looking to capitalize on the availability of this plant in this region and use it for the right reasons.
‘Industrial Hemp is misunderstood for marijuana. Though both the plants are from the same genus cannabis, both have different properties’ says Mr HarshaavardhanRediSirupa, founding and Managing partner, NHempCo speaking to Vizag Industrial Scan.
He explains that industrial Hemp grows upto 12-15 feet, and can be used to manufacture more than 25000 products.
While on the other side, the marijuana plants grow 3-5 feet and is used as recreational or famously used in medicines.
Some of the applications where industrial Hemp can be used include: Industrial products, foods, textiles, paper, building materials etc. While Mr Sirupa’s company is seeking government’s permission for sourcing industrial Hemp from the Araku and Paderu region their company is also looking at necessary approvals for its cultivation in the Anantpur district.
‘Once given approval we shall start registering and collaborating with farmers across the state and will start the cultivation from the dry district of Anantapur and expand to other districts’ said Mr Sirupa.
The company also plans to integrate technology into their cultivation with the advent of Smart Farming and IoT: ‘In all the industrial Hemp farms, we will introduce the smart farming and IoT at no costs to farmers. Through Internet of Things (IoT), our backend systems will update the farmers at regular intervals on application of nutrients and water for better productivity’ said Mr Sirupa.
The company has made a presentation to the respective authorities in the state and is currently awaiting permission both for sourcing and cultivation of industrial hemp on PPP model.