Chances are that it’s not plant-based nutrition for people and animals, or beauty products.
However, that’s exactly what Australian Primary Hemp are producing, and CEO Neale Joseph explains why: “The big trend at the moment is there is a significant global move to plant-based nutrition, and we have positioned ourselves in three industries to capture that trend. Plant based nutrition for food and animal nutrition, as well as beauty nutrition. Those are three areas expanding rapidly, and the growth in these segments far outstrips the growth in traditional sectors.”
Australian Primary Hemp offers a complete end-to-end service, and their journey began in 2016 with the desire to develop a sustainable food source as well as a passion for agriculture. “We have a paddock-to-plate strategy, so we have farmers who contract farm for us in Tasmania and South-West Victoria. We have our own unique genetic hemp which we produce in Australia and is grown in very strict conditions by some of the very best farmers. We have our own agronomy services too, which means we are maximising the outcome for the farmer as well as the crop.”
Hemp is one of the oldest known agricultural crops, and is a very nutritious source of food. It can also be used to make clothes, plastic, paper, construction materials, biofuels, and of course, rope. It’s recyclable, reusable, and 100% biodegradable.
It’s actually different from marijuana, because hemp contains little to no THC, which is the component that gives you the high of marijuana. So, hemp is completely safe and legal to eat, as well as being vegan-friendly and GMO-free.
How is hemp grown commercially, and what are the benefits to the farmers and the environment?
“We aim to grow between 4-500 tons of hemp this year, and it looks like it’s going to be a successful year,” says Neale. “Farmers use hemp as a rotational crop. The growing season is only 14 weeks from sowing to harvest. Our biggest area under crop is around 40 hectares.”
The hemp market is highly regulated by the government, so Australian Primary Hemp works within the parameters of the Office of Drug Control and TGA and individual state laws where they operate. Their primary variety of hemp is grown the same way in each farm, then they decide where they are going to use it.
“Hemp is environmentally friendly. It uses around 1/10th of the water that cotton would need, and about ⅓ of the water that any other cereal crop would use,” Neale says. “Because the varieties are quite short-growing, they grow densely, which means they have a very low pesticide requirement. That’s great from an environmental and consumer perspective.”
Hemp grows quickly, and the way it’s harvested means the part of the plant that Australian Primary Hemp don’t use is mulched back into the ground. This hemp mulch actually removes carbon from the atmosphere while regenerating the soil for the next crop.
“We’ve seen evidence that other crops grown in that regenerated ground then yield much more, which is great for the farmer.Because it’s easy to manage, the farmers are very keen to keep growing hemp. They are in it for the business of farming, but they also care about environmental sustainability, which is why hemp works so well for them,” Neale explains.
Australian Primary Hemp are passionate about supporting the Australian farming economy, which is why they use 100% home-grown hemp. They also believe that everyone should have access to fresh, healthy, and locally-grown food.
“We are really proud of the fact we have a completely traceable supply chain from seed to consumer. It’s fundamentally important to us that the hemp is grown in Australia. We’re proud of the farming communities we engage with, the people who work for us, and the quality of the product we produce,” says Neale.
You can now find a range of hemp-based foods on the market from hemp seeds for sprinkling on salads or soups, to hemp milk and hemp protein. APH also partnered with the Bellarine
Distillery to create an innovative, non-drying hand sanitiser made with hemp oil in 2020.
Australian Primary Hemp were the 2018 Food and Beverage Industry Awards Paddock to Plate winner, and the 2018 Geelong Small Business Awards Agriculture Winner.
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