Tuesday, October 16, 2012

New Alberta processor could make a material difference to hemp farmers

A hemp field in Leduc County.
By Bill Mah, Edmonton Journal  October 10, 2012

A hemp field in Leduc County.

Photograph by: Supplied/Rachel Peterson , Edmonton Journal

Alberta’s hemp farmers toil in relative obscurity compared to their better-known grain and oilseed colleagues, but new technology being developed near Edmonton could change that.
The Hart Fibre Trade Company, a hemp-fibre processor based in Leduc County, is introducing the first Canadian scutched hemp processing system — a way of straightening the plant’s fibres so it can be used to make textiles. Hemp is considered an alternative to cotton.
The company accepted funding of $938,000 on Wednesday to speed development. The money comes from the Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program (CAAP), a five-year $163-million program to boost agriculture’s competitiveness and adaptability.
“There is high demand for value-added hemp textiles in overseas markets, and this innovative process will help farmers capture more value from their crop while opening the doors to potential new markets,” said Edmonton-Leduc MP James Rajotte, who announced the funding.
Acreage for hemp production in Canada has nearly doubled over the past year, with a projected target of 100,000 acres by 2015, according to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada.
Hart owner and president Zigang Ren said the company grows, processes and exports hemp to China for textile manufacture, and to the United States, where it used for making car parts.
“Hemp is a very, very good material,” said Ren, who grows hemp on 32 hectares near Devon and operates the Hemp Room store at Bonnie Doon Mall.
“It’s comfortable and beautiful.”

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