The first industrial hemp crops are set to be cultivated later this year following the State Government’s approval of the first cultivation licences.
Industrial hemp is a summer crop and the sowing of the inaugural crops are set to take place in later Spring through to early Summer.
“This is a significant milestone for the establishment of an exciting new agricultural industry here in South Australia that will grow our economy, especially in the regions,” said Minister for Primary Industries and Regional Development Tim Whetstone.
“Based on current predictions, it is anticipated that within five years an expanding industrial hemp industry in South Australia could have a farm gate value of $3 million a year.
“The ability to cultivate industrial hemp is great news for many farmers and processors as it provides them with another option to diversify their operations.
“South Australia’s agribusiness sector remains strong and opportunities such as this to innovate and grow is good news not only for our regions but for the state.
“Industrial hemp is a very versatile crop, producing a seed that can be used in health food and cosmetic products, while the fibre from the stalk can be used to manufacture consumer and industrial textiles, building materials and paper.”
To further assist in the industry’s development, research trials are being undertaken by the South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI) in the Riverland and South East.
“These trials are determining the optimum sowing and growing period and the suitability of the two regions for hemp grain and fibre production and will also investigate the effect of seed variety and the time of planting on production,” said Mr Whetstone.
“This research program being undertaken by SARDI, combined with the latest in available crop technology, will provide prospective growers with the best advice for considering industrial hemp as a potential new crop in their farming mix.
“The wide range of products that can be manufactured from industrial hemp also provides plenty of scope for business development, particularly in regional areas.”