Hemp has the potential to make Scotland’s agricultural sector carbon neutral | New

Hemp has the potential to make Scotland’s agricultural sector carbon neutral and provide huge economic benefits, according to a new report.

For the first time, a detailed analysis has been carried out of the market opportunities for the Scottish hemp sector with time-bound recommendations to revamp the supply chain provided.

Hemp was once widely grown in Scotland and its cultivation dates back over 6000 years. It has many uses, including offsetting carbon dioxide, as a food, and as an environmentally friendly fertilizer and pesticide. It is currently used in building materials, as biofuel, textile fabric and even as an alternative to plastic. As a food source, it is rich in protein, fiber and micronutrients, as well as an exceptional fatty acid profile.

The report is a collaboration between the Rowett Institute at the University of Aberdeen and Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC), in partnership with the Scottish Agricultural Organization Society (SAOS) and the Scottish Hemp Association (SHA). He analyzed the hempseed and fiber supply chain in Scotland using data collected from farmers primarily in the North East of Scotland as well as the Borders.

At present, the supply chain for hemp grown in Scotland is underdeveloped, with no well-established market channels for farmers. The supply chain is also exposed to many threats limiting its development, including low profitability, lack of technical support, weather constraints, lack of financial support and strict legislation.

Funded by the Scottish Government’s Rural and Environmental Science and Analytical Services through a Gateway grant from the Scottish Environment, Food and Agricultural Research Institutes (SEFARI), the study also looked at data commercial data from HMRC as well as global new product development data from Mintel. Trade data shows that the UK is a net importer of hemp seed and hemp fibre.

The author of the joint report, Dr Wisdom Dogbe of the Rowett Institute, said: “The information gathered was used to carry out a comprehensive assessment of the challenges and opportunities facing the hemp sector.

“We know that global production of industrial hemp has been in decline since the 1960s due to an unfavorable political climate regarding the cultivation and use of the crop as well as legislation. However, the hemp plant has the potential to be a profitable, carbon neutral and environmentally friendly crop for farmers.

“The UK is among the first five countries to launch hemp products globally. The majority of the launched products fall under the category of snacks, nutritional beverages and beverages, healthcare, breakfast cereals and baked goods.

“The top five facts associated with hemp products are that they are low in allergens, zero or reduced, vegan, gluten-free, vegetarian, and can be grown organically. . It really has the potential to be a cost effective product bringing both health and environmental benefits.

The author of the joint report, Dr Cesar Revoredo-Giha of SRUC, added: “Our research has provided strong advice on the steps needed to take the Scottish hemp sector forward. These include, in the short term, strategies that can be adopted by stakeholders such as the use of hemp as a carbon credit crop as well as the provision of educational/technical support to hemp growers.

“Medium-term strategies are to loosen hemp regulations and establish a strong hemp processing sector.

“Long-term strategies to reorganize the hemp sector include building strong vertical and horizontal linkages, a seed production hub, and a well-coordinated hemp association.”

Professor Wendy Russell, Personal Chair of the Rowett Institute, which has worked with farmers to support hemp production in Scotland and developed the project with partners, added: “We have already demonstrated the health benefits of this important crop. environment and we will continue to support our farmers. and the processing sector on this exciting journey. Hemp oil, which has an optimal ratio of omega fatty acids, has been produced in Scotland before, but this ratio also demonstrates the wider societal and economic potential of hemp production in Scotland. »

The full report on potential market opportunities for hemp seed and fiber in Scotland is available here.

Lana T. Arthur