Agriculture: Hemp cultivation as a crop is booming: "Uncanny potential"

The cultivation of hemp in food production has increased significantly in North Rhine-Westphalia over the past ten years.

Agriculture: Hemp cultivation as a crop is booming: "Uncanny potential"

The cultivation of hemp in food production has increased significantly in North Rhine-Westphalia over the past ten years. According to industry sources, the crop was grown on 317 hectares this year, compared to just one hectare in 2013. "There are many possible uses," said Michael Dickeduisberg, a cultivation specialist at the Haus Düsse agricultural testing and training center of the North Rhine-Westphalia Chamber of Agriculture in Bad Sassendorf.

Edible oil and gluten-free flour can be obtained from the plant, which can be more than three meters tall depending on the variety. Depending on the type, fibers can be processed into ropes or textiles. Nationwide, hemp grows on over 7000 hectares. The area under cultivation has been increasing since 2013.

"Agricultural cultivation is experiencing an incredible boom," said the agronomist. Above all, growers are innovative farmers who want to try something and offer the trend product. Many produce hemp oil from the seeds and then market it themselves. Plants grow outdoors in normal fields, flowering is in July. The nationwide degree of self-sufficiency with hemp for nutritional purposes is currently roughly 50 percent. The products are mainly imported from China, France and Canada.

Agricultural hemp is not a drug crop. The intoxicating active ingredient THC may not exceed 0.2 percent in the leaves of industrial hemp and is therefore extremely low.

Farmers must report the cultivation to the Federal Agency for Agriculture and Food in Bonn. Depending on the variety, they can use conventional equipment for harvesting and do not have to buy expensive special machines. That is also an advantage, said Dickeduisberg. "The plant has an incredible potential," said the expert. North Rhine-Westphalia is working with partners in Germany to develop cultivation methods to optimize domestic hemp cultivation.

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