Written by Kelvin Heppner on Friday, 06 December 2013
The Canadian hemp industry continues to experience growth.
According to Health Canada, a record 67 thousand acres of hemp were grown in 2013. That's up from around 54 thousand in 2012.
"The hemp industry is forging ahead quite rapidly. We saw a great expansion in acres this past year, particularly in Saskatchewan which is the leading hemp producing province, followed by Alberta and Manitoba," says Kim Shukla, who lives in the Steinbach area and serves as the executive director of the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance.
She says there's strong demand for hemp seed, protein powder and oil.
"If you talk to the processors, they're short in the market," says Shukla, noting there's also some progress on the use of hemp fibre. "We're starting to see some movement on the fibre side of things. The investment in processing has always been a stumbling block, but there's a plant in Gilbert Plains that's up and running and there was just an announcement of a new facility just south of Lethbridge."
There were no major agronomic issues in the 2013 growing season, she notes.
"Harvest is always tough, as hemp is one of the last crops and everyone is tired by then, but in general, it was a good growing year," says Shukla.
The industry is aiming for 250 thousand acres of hemp production by 2018, and she expects to see progress toward that goal in 2014.
"There's no question we're going to see an increase in acres, as there's just so much market demand for the products."
The CHTA saw record attendance for its annual convention in Saskatoon last week.