Hemp le­galised as food in boost for Bay

Hawke's Bay Today - - Local News - An­drew Ash­ton

Just a week af­ter Hawke’s Bay busi­ness groups de­cided to team up to in­ves­ti­gate op­por­tu­ni­ties around grow­ing hemp, the Gov­ern­ment has le­galised its use as food.

In a move that could help Hawke’s Bay be­come a prime hemp-grow­ing re­gion, Food Safety Min­is­ter Damien O’Con­nor said the Mis­use of Drugs (In­dus­trial Hemp) Reg­u­la­tions 2006 and Food Reg­u­la­tions 2015 would be amended to al­low the sale of hemp seed as food.

“This is great news for the lo­cal hemp in­dus­try, which has ar­gued for decades that the pro­duc­tion of hemp seed foods will stim­u­late re­gional economies, cre­ate jobs and gen­er­ate $10-$20 mil­lion of ex­port rev­enue within three to five years.”

Busi­ness Hawke’s Bay chief ex­ec­u­tive Carolyn Neville said as a re­sult of last week’s Fu­ture Foods Con­fer­ence in Napier, a hemp spe­cial in­ter­est group would be formed to ex­plore cus­tomer ori­ented op­por­tu­ni­ties in the fi­bre, medicine and food cat­e­gories.

“Hawke’s Bay’s rep­u­ta­tion as a premium pro­ducer of in­no­va­tive value-add prod­ucts is al­ready wellestab­lished with ap­ples, meat, wine. Vol­ume hemp pro­duc­tion is mas­sive in Canada and it is a very ma­ture mar­ket.

“Where New Zea­land, and par­tic­u­larly Hawke’s Bay, is best poised to take ad­van­tage is in high­qual­ity, niche prod­ucts that will sell at a premium. This ap­proach cap­tures the trend to nat­u­ral prod­ucts, or­ganic, non-gluten, prove­nance, trace­abil­ity, biose­cu­rity.”

Neville said hemp also pre- sented ad­van­tages for the Ma¯ori econ­omy through pro­duc­tive use of Ma¯ori land.

“In the longer term, the medic­i­nal cannabis mar­ket is a very small, niche op­por­tu­nity which will be highly reg­u­lated. Hawke’s Bay should not be dis­tracted by it and should fo­cus on hemp in food.

“The re­gion al­ready has global ex­pe­ri­ence, a strong sup­port in­fra­struc­ture and the ca­pa­bil­ity in food and bev­er­age pro­duc­tion. We are well poised to take this trans­fer­able skill set and ap­ply it to add value to hemp as a food prod­uct and de­velop our own hemp value chain.

“The areas we will need to de­velop are the agro­nomic knowl­edge, how to farm, har­vest and store, what is ar­guably the world’s most ver­sa­tile plant.

“Hemp of­fers an op­por­tu­nity for farm­ing di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion, a trend that is al­ready well es­tab­lished, with hemp of­fer­ing ad­van­tages to farm­ers for land-use ro­ta­tion and or­ganic crop­ping.”

Min­is­ter O’Con­nor said hemp flow­ers and leaves would not be per­mit­ted to be con­sumed.

“Hemp is cur­rently grown un­der per­mit and is used for fi­bre and hemp seed oil.

“Hulled, non-vi­able seeds and their prod­ucts will be now be viewed as just an­other edi­ble seed. Grow­ing, pos­ses­sion and trade of whole seeds will still re­quire a li­cence from the Min­istry of Health.

“Hemp seeds are safe to eat, nu­tri­tious and do not have a psy­choac­tive ef­fect.”

Hemp seed oil, in­clud­ing that made by Otane com­pany Kanapu, has been le­gal since 2003.

PHOTO / FILE

Hawke’s Bay look­ing at be­com­ing big player in hemp in­dus­try.

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