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Is Europe Ready for Hemp?

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Have you ever wondered how or why hemp came to be prohibited? How was life and acceptance of hemp before the widespread prohibition? What were the production or consumption statistics? Most people were born into a world where hemp was prohibited, so for as long as they have been alive, hemp was something they gave a wide berth. However, things weren’t always this way.

Back in the day before the red tape hit hemp, countries like Spain, France, the Netherlands and England were some of the biggest markets for hemp. It wasn’t until two decades ago that the EU reconsidered their stance on hemp, making it legal. Even with the changes in terms of the legal status, most of the demand for hemp oil, hemp seeds, and hemp fiber was still unaccounted for. Because of this reason, the EU got its fair share of hemp from Canada or China.

Imports have their challenges and constraints, and bearing that in mind, especially the challenge that China is giving to western nations in terms of the show of might and its push to be a force to reckon with, the EU is looking into ways on how to change this position.

It’s legal to grow hemp in any country that falls under the jurisdiction of the EU. This makes the EU a good place for hemp growers, unlike the US where the production of hemp is limited to a few states. Even with these developments, the market for hemp in the EU still needs support. Compared to other crops, hemp doesn’t get as much funding allocation as the other major plants. It’s important that for this industry to grow, hemp should be seen in terms of the commercial value, and allowed sufficient funding to boost the growth of an industry that’s just kicking off.

Other than the funding, most countries that grow hemp in the EU don’t have sufficient or capable machinery to handle the growth of hemp, especially when it comes to processing of the hemp stalks for their fiber. Given these challenges, most farmers don’t see hemp as a profitable venture, and would rather focus their attention and investment on something else.

That being said, however, it’s clear that the growth of hemp throughout the EU has been on the rise. A lot of farmers are becoming more aware and accepting towards hemp. There’s so much to look forward to, given that the market potential for hemp is huge. This is a crop that has a wide range of uses compared to most of the other cash crops currently being planted. Other than that, in terms of the production process, hemp uses a smaller space compared to cotton and consumes less water.

There has been a steady increase in the number of people who have been farming hemp in the EU, with more than 50,000 acres currently under cultivation according to statistics as of 2015. This is proof that Europe is accepting the potential commercial value of hemp, and we can only look forward to sustained growth in the near future.

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