Hemp proposal earns praise

Alicia PereraPilbara News
A hemp crop growing in the Kimberley region in 2008.
Camera IconA hemp crop growing in the Kimberley region in 2008. Credit: The West Australian, Sharon Smith/ The West Australian

The Pilbara could become a “hemp capital of Australia” with a proposal to start industrial production of the plant in the region currently on the table.

A plan from new WA company Food Fibre and Land International to start growing hempcrops in the region for building materials and food was mentioned by Regional Development Minister Alannah MacTiernan in her opening speech at the Pilbara Economic Development Conference on Tuesday last week.

Ms MacTiernan praised the corporation for the agriculture proposal, which could help bring to fruition a long-awaited idea to develop seed crops in the area.

“This is a sustainable feedstock for so many building products, furniture, food, paper — (it’s) a fabulous product,” she said.

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“So hopefully we’ll be the hemp capital of Australia in all the good ways.”

Ms MacTiernan said the Pilbara proposal would not be associated with medicinal cannabis.

FFLI has raised money to start industrial production of the plant in the Pilbara as well as Kununurra and is planning to start production in mid-2018.

Company managing director Rob Edkins said it was an ideal time to expand production of the crop because of growing global demand for its products.

“The world is turning back to more natural products,” he said.

“They’re moving away from the synthetic products, and hemp just naturally falls into that.”

He said the project could provide a variety of local jobs in the Pilbara.

FFLI advisor and Hemp Corporation director Colin Steddy said northern WA’s conditions were favourable for the crop and expanding production to WA’s north would help supply the “huge” market for hemp products.

“The production up there could be phenomenal,” he said.

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