The hemp industry is currently in the spotlight, experiencing a renaissance in India. It's capturing the interest of a younger demographic, thanks to its incredible potential across diverse sectors. With a history deeply rooted in India for thousands of years, hemp is celebrated in Ayurveda as 'Sarva Roga Nivarini'—a panacea for numerous ailments.
In 2019, when we founded Neoli, the industry was just budding. Our initial interactions with customers often revolved around misconceptions like "Will this make me high?" These myths and limited awareness posed significant hurdles for hemp seed products. However, there's a gradual shift today. Awareness is growing, particularly as hemp cultivation has gained legal status in nearly 50 countries over the past decade.
What is the potential of hemp?
- Nutritional Supplements: Hemp seeds are a powerhouse of essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. The surging demand for natural and organic supplements has spurred the market for hemp-based nutritional products. Hemp seed oils, with their ideal Omega 6 to Omega 3 ratio, offer a natural source that our body needs but often lacks. Rich in vitamins and minerals, they could potentially replace OTC supplements, providing an effective natural alternative.
- Carbon Sequestration: In the urgent quest for climate positivity and environmental sustainability, hemp plants emerge as crucial players in balancing greenhouse gases. Hemp plants can absorb carbon dioxide during their growth cycle as a plant but not just this, after processing the plants wood core used to make hempcrete also traps carbon and contributes to carbon sequestration efforts, holding promise for mitigating the impacts of climate change. Hempcrete is a green material for Green Buildings which aim at a environment friendly and sustainable future of urban landscapes.
- Versatility: Every part of the hemp plant holds potential for productivity. Hemp seed as food, Hemp fibre for clothing and hemp husk as building material, in short “ROTI ,KAPDA aur MAKAN!” 50,000 uses of Hemp truely showcase the plant's remarkable versatility.
- Agriculture smart: Hemp cultivation offers various benefits to farmers. The plant has relatively low water requirements, reducing strain on water resources. It also requires minimal pesticide use, promoting environmentally friendly farming practices. Moreover, hemp boasts a rapid growth cycle and adapts well to diverse soil conditions, providing a smart and sustainable option for agricultural cultivation.
The Indian Government has taken strides to foster the hemp ecosystem. Entities like FSSAI recognizing hemp seeds as nutritious food signify a positive shift. Legal differentiations between industrial hemp and recreational cannabis, as outlined in the Uttarakhand’s Hemp Policy of 2016 and the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act of 1985, allow controlled cultivation of industrial hemp. States such as Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh have proactively supported regulated hemp cultivation.
Yet, achieving self-sustainability remains a journey. A critical gap persists in marketing hemp products, especially on digital platforms. Surprisingly, clear guidelines for promoting these products aren't easily accessible, complicating advertising efforts in the era of social media and digital advertising. The key lies in enhancing awareness and educating consumers about hemp's myriad uses, particularly the nutritional powerhouse that is hemp seed oil. Valued at a potential of US $80-100 million, India is missing out on a massive hemp-opportunity due to insufficient information.
For India to leverage hemp's potential fully, the entire ecosystem must align to showcase its benefits. Addressing prevailing myths and misconceptions is paramount. It's only through this unified effort that the true value and goodness of hemp can be embraced and disseminated effectively.
The growing hemp industry in India marks a pivotal change in agriculture, sustainability, wellness, and industry. Through strategic policy reforms and heightened awareness, India's hemp sector holds the promise of becoming a global frontrunner, sparking a transformative phase of economic prosperity and environmental mindfulness.