According to the Sinn Féin spokesperson on Agriculture, Matt Carthy TD, the hemp sector, if developed, can deliver a viable extra income source for farmers while also providing an environmental benefit.
However, he believes the government appear to be “placing obstacles in the way” of the sector’s development.
He stressed the need to deliver a roadmap for this industry based on reducing red tape and training for interested farmers. Furthermore, he believes this requires vision, ambition and imagination from the government.
Carthy spoke after he met with representatives of the Hemp Federation of Ireland, alongside colleague Cllr. Pat Treanor, at the farm of Kama Hemp at Clones, Co. Monaghan.
He said: “At a time when many farming sectors have faced years of unsustainably low incomes, we must explore all options to assist farmers to remain on their farms.”
“Hemp cultivation can help farmers supplement their income and comes at a much lower environmental cost than the intensification of their current practises.”
“But, rather than support the sector, the Irish government seems intent on placing obstacles in the way of its development.”
“Instead, there is substantial evidence that if the government reduces the red tape associated with the sector and provides training for interested farmers, this can be a significant area of growth that can be both profitable and environmentally beneficial.”
Uses for hemp, he pointed out, include building material for houses, paper, clothes, heating oil and as a plastic alternative.
There is also an increasing demand for CBD health products, extracted by various approved methods from hemp, both in Ireland and internationally.
“None of these areas have been explored sufficiently. Therefore, there is a need for a cross-departmental analysis as to how this sector can be developed in a safe and sustainable manner.”
“Sinn Féin believes that the role of the government is crucial, that the Department of Agriculture should take a lead in providing supports for those in the sector, training for those willing to diversify and liaising with other state agencies such as the Department of Health to minimise bureaucracy in the sector.
“If we are to maintain our network of family farms across Ireland, then we need to be imaginative and supportive of all options,” he concluded.
Student’s hemp for a sustainable future project
Last month, we featured two siblings, who have been recognised for their work in the area of hemp production.
Cian and Caoimhe Walsh, Cork, won the ECO-Innovation Award at the ECO-UNESCO Young Environmentalist Awards Final with their project ‘Hemp for a Sustainable Future’.
Their project aims to promote the social, economic and environmental benefits of growing hemp and how the crop can promote sustainable farming in Ireland.
They are advocating for the development of industrial hemp processing facilities, to give a sustainable alternative land use to farmers, while also providing much-needed employment in rural Ireland. You can read more here.