Future of the crop of the past looks bright

A new hemp cluster arise in the Czech republic and we are proud to be a part of it. Read more in press release from The Road-mapping Workshop – HEMP industry in Danube Region.

Road-mapping of Danube Region and bio-economy data collection for formulating The Joint Bio-based Industry Cluster Policy Strategy (JBCS) shown some development in the realisation of the sustainable growth policy and on the other hand the limits of current conditions. Without significant acceleration of the bio-economy in the Danube Region, the ambitious goals of The European Commission Bio-economical Strategy will not be met in the foreseeable time horizon. The EU supports among other things seed treatment, cultivation and processing of crops with a wide use and ambition to replace non-renewable resources, especially crude oil. By following the path of sustainable growth, some of the applied solutions had shown to be problematic and endangered the fulfilling of the strategy basic goals in some EU-member states (not-estimated negative impacts arose, such as difficult cultivation conditions, degradation of soil, influence to the biodiversity loss and the general impact to the European ecosystems).

To boost the Danube Region bio-economy and fulfil the Strategy Article 2.3.9.[1], Czech Republic coordinator in DanuBioValNet – The National Cluster Association – decided to organise the Hemp Industry Road-mapping Workshop.

Hemp (lat. Cannabis) has the best prerequisites to become the crop for the future. The reason for this statement includes a paradox. Hemp was considered as the crop of the past during the 40 years following the WWII. Its history begun with domestication during the Neolithic revolution and has been used for manufacturing the tough textile fibres and for rural healing for thousands of years since. Nowadays we witness the renaissance of hemp all around the world and the researchers and scientists increased rapidly their focus on re-discovering the plant’ features expanding the traditional ways of use – above all Textile, Construction, Food & Beverage, Paper, Pharmacy, Cosmetics and Bio-plastics industries and also as the biomass for Energetic). The undisputable benefits by the hemp cultivation are comparatively low demands on soil and water, the possibility of using all parts of the plant¸ fast growth without the need for excessive fertilisation and 10.000 Years old history of cultivation in the North Temperate Zone avoiding any unpredictable environmental impact.

There are several reasons for including hemp among Danube Region strategic crops:
1) Between 1993 and 1996, the cultivation of industrial hemp was legalised in most EU member states.

2) The range of agricultural land used in Europe for the cultivation of industrial hemp increased by 400% In 5 Years period (2011-16). This trend is led by France, but among the top European producers are also Ukraine, Hungary and Romania.[2]

3) Whole Danube Region is located in the southern half of the North Temperate Zone providing ideal conditions for the cultivation of the plant.

4) Germany, Austria, Hungary, Slovenia, Slovakia and Czech Republic have high developed phytopharmacy including both research and application.

5) In the Czech Republic a legal basis for all stages of industrial hemp cultivation and processing has been laid down and there has been in force also the regulation of the use of cannabis for medical purposes for 5 years already.

6) The hemp sector clusters are being established in Slovakia and Czech Republic.

The Roadmapping Workshop on 26th April 2018 in Prague with international attendance including Austrian, Croatian, Czech, Serbian and Slovak members agreed on the first 3 steps good to be taken.

1) Education by sharing knowledge based on practical experience hand in hand with the results of scientific research.

2) Initiative to support foundation of the hemp sector clusters in Danube Region.

3) Harmonisation of regulation and standardisation of hemp industry in Danube Region.

[1] Provide the knowledge-base for sustainable intensification of primary production. Improve the understanding of current, potential and future availability and demand of biomass (including agricultural and forestry residues and waste) across sectors, taking into account added value, sustainability, soil fertility and climate mitigation potential. Make these findings available for the development and review of relevant policies. Support the future development of an agreed methodology for the calculation of environmental footprints, e.g. using life cycle assessments (LCAs).

[2] http://www.fao.org/faostat

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