Before we answer how hemp can improve the lives of poor farmers of Uttarakhand, let’s cover some basics.
Hemp is cultivated in more than 30 countries around the world on an industrial scale. It is used to manufacture a plethora of products – clothing, medicine, food, building materials, paper et al.
Hemp cultivation got banned for its infamous cousin plant, marijuana. Whereas hemp and marijuana are different plants of the same species. And while marijuana contains THC that brings a high, hemp is not at all psychoactive.
Recently conducted extensive research all over the world is again bringing hemp in the forefront for positive discourse.
Therefore, most developing countries and nations are now taking initiatives to implement regulatory policies allowing the cultivation of hemp for the rapid development of the whole economy of India.
Recent Legislative Developments In Uttarakhand For Hemp Cultivation
Even though, 60% of the Indian population are farmers dependent on agriculture as their primary source of livelihood, while our country’s agricultural sector contributes to only 18 % of the country’s GDP even though it employs 50% of India’s workforce. And yet, 50% of our farmers are poor and suffer from debilitating debts all their lives.
The government of Uttarakhand has issued a license to launch a pilot project in India to promote the cultivation of hemp in the Pauri Garhwal district.
While recreational cannabis contains more than 10% of THC, industrial hemp contains only 0.3 percent of THC (that completely satisfies the NDPS Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act), therefore, rending the products absolutely harmless for human consumption.
Most of the poor farmers of Uttarakhand are employed by their state governments, while some work with local groups of farmers. If India can empower the farmers in the Northern hilly states to cultivate this gem of a crop, which is also local, the financial benefits will be enormous for farmers.
Industrial hemp is a multi-beneficial crop where all parts of the plant can be utilized in one way or another. There are more than 30,000 products manufactured from hemp, available in the global market.
How Will the Poor Farmers Of Uttarakhand Benefit From Cultivating Hemp Instead Of Cotton?
India, like most countries, has cotton as the leading natural fiber that is cultivated. However, growing cotton is not helping the thousands of poor farmers of Uttarakhand earn a considerable income, whereas hemp can improve the condition radically.
1. It can be very beneficial primarily because the plant can be grown anywhere, even in barren lands.
2. The hemp plant grows best in hilly terrains and cold climate. Therefore regions such as Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir are vast areas for the cultivation of the raw material for industrial hemp
3. The plant grows up to 12 feet in height within a period of three to four months. This timeline itself is hugely beneficial, as the plant gets ready for harvesting. Farmers, instead of having to wait for almost nine months for the cotton plant to even grow ultimately.
4. Hemp is the best alternative to cotton as it requires significantly less water and no herbicides to grow. The plant is naturally repulsive to weed growth, therefore having very fewer life threats.
5. Whereas cotton needs to be saved from a plethora of bugs hence requiring heavy use of pesticides. The cost of growing cotton is therefore enormously high for farmers while its alternative literally requires nothing of this.
6. Across the state of Uttarakhand, ghost villages exist in large numbers. Ghost villages are those that have seen massive migration of inhabitants who have moved to metropolitan cities in search of better economic opportunities.
7. If hemp is cultivated in an industrial scale, the locals can come back to their native land and grow their local crop while earning more money, enjoying a higher standard of living, and save up much more income than they can in big cities around the country.
Why Hemp Canvas?
● The defence sector is one of the largest industries in the country and one of the largest industries in the whole world.
● Because hemp canvases are popular for building materials, it is because hemp fiber is resistant to fire to a great extent, UV light rays, water, heat and mildew. Therefore it is absolutely the perfect material for canvas manufacturing for the armed forces to build their stations and camps with greater safety.
● Indeed, the refining of the hemp fiber to translate it into an ideal fabric choice will require substantial investment in advanced technology. And even if it might seem like a setback, research organizations around the world are investing in R&D programs intending to invent proper refining processes technologically. Once this process is achieved, farmers will start profiting exponentially overnight.
We can thus conclude that not only will it boost the industry by sourcing a plethora of valuable materials; it will guarantee thousands of jobs that will sustain thousands of families.
Hemp fiber and other precious extracts from the crop will be supplemented with job opportunities and assure better and sustainable use of the natural resources of the planet. Of course, there’s no doubt that this is the easiest way to boom the Indian economy real fast.
Once the stigma around hemp gets eradicated, India as a country can hugely reap the benefits from this miracle crop. Farmer-friendly policies made by the State governments in India would positively impact the lives of millions of farmers and small landholders almost immediately.
The country will not only be able to cultivate their local crop and manufacture products from it on a large industrial scale; It will automatically boost India’s GDP creating more investment opportunities for national and international investors.