The Missing Bridge Between Uttarakhand’s Farmers and Their Economic Freedom

2019 was a year of revelations for everyone in the Hemp Foundation team. We traveled where roads would take us in Uttarakhand, and hen beyond.

And we saw the missing bridge. The bridge that can connect Uttarakhand’s farmers to their much-deserved economic independence.

And we will build this bridge. The bridge of awareness.

Awareness Drives Aimed At Helping Farmers Participate in The Hemp Economy

Our biggest challenge has been to overcome the centuries of negative publicity received by hemp farming. However, the first step has been the most rewarding one, as we see hundreds of farmers join us in our mission every week. Here are the three key directions we’ve taken in our people-focused awareness campaigns.

Educating Farmers By Debunking Myths Associated With Hemp

Hemp Foundation is playing the role of an educator and myth buster. India’s farmers have been burdened with their lack of understanding of the hemp crop.

The misconceptions and stigma around hemp. In the remotest parts of rural Uttarakhand, farmers can still be seen cursing the hemp leaf, when it grows on its own!

We believe that farmers need to be educated so that they can differentiate between wild hemp and industrial hemp, and reap the benefits of cultivating this super-crop.

Revealing The Economic Benefits of Hemp Farming

In the pilot campaigns we conducted across the lengths and breadths of Uttarakhand, we were baffled to observe that the farming community was clueless about the Uttarakhand government’s decision to decriminalize hemp farming.

The biggest concerns of the farming community are:

  • Is it truly legal to grow industrial hemp?
  • How do they believe that nobody from the government will be able to penalize them because of hemp farming?
  • How do they apply for licenses for hemp farming?
  • How can they handle all the paperwork correctly and quickly?
  • How will they find buyers for their produce?

We immediately ramped up our awareness efforts. The result is that with each passing week, hundreds of farmers are learning of the economic benefits of hemp farming and joining us in our mission of making Uttarakhand a model state in the hemp economy.

Empowering Farmers With Training For Sourcing, Growing, and Selling Industrial Hemp

India’s farmers are used to living with challenges. We believe we can help them with the right information, to speed track their progress as industrial hemp growers.

Hemp Foundation has conducted awareness drives in remote Uttarakhand villages like Rawal Gaon, Bhunal, and Kandai. Farmers benefit immensely when they get practical and grounded information on aspects such as:

  • How to identify the right seeds for the hemp crop they want to grow
  • How to keep the THC levels in the crop below the legally prescribed limit of 0.3%.
  • How to secure licenses from local government bodies, to grow industrial hemp legally
  • Understanding the different grading systems for hemp crop quality, so that they can price their produce suitably
  • Using each part of the hemp crop (seeds, stem, leaves) and use them as raw materials for creating products, or selling them to other partners in the supply chain
  • How women can be a part of the hemp economy by learning hemp weaving from our trainers

Awareness Drives To Shape Policy Around Hemp Farming

To truly lay the foundation of a sustainable hemp economy in Uttarakhand, we have made our awareness drives multi-faceted. The key steps we’ve taken are:

  • Inviting local political representatives from farmer communities to participate in our awareness drives
  • Summarizing the biggest concerns of the farming community to Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs).
  • Understanding from local politicians as to how farmers can benefit from programs and schemes aimed at promoting the agricultural economy
  • Encouraging policymakers and influential local representatives to participate in our programs aimed at removing fear among farmers about the legality of industrial hemp farming

What Next?

The short to medium-term plan is to identify communities within villages that align well with our vision. We are empowering these villages to become ‘model villages’ by demonstrating how farmers can enjoy economic independence by growing industrial hemp.