Panel gives go-ahead to hemp cultivation in Himachal
Cultivation of hemp allowed for industrial and medicinal purposes only; the report states that the government could tap into this untapped potential, so as to benefit local farmers by introducing hemp cultivation for non-narcotic purposes.
Decks have been cleared for the cultivation of hemp for industrial and medicinal purposes in Himachal.
The committee appointed by the state government to look into the feasibility and legalities of hemp cultivation in the hill state, presented its comprehensive report in the state assembly on Friday. The foremost recommendation of the committee, chaired by revenue and horticulture minister Jagat Singh Negi and comprising Congress and BJP members, was the amendment of the Himachal Pradesh NDPS (Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances) Rules of 1989, to grant legal status to hemp cultivation in the state.
Chief minister Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu himself presented the committee’s findings and suggestions in the assembly.
Ideal climatic & geographical conditions in state
Explaining the committee’s key findings, revenue minister Jagat Singh Negi said the region’s favourable climate and geographical conditions are ideal for hemp cultivation. Wild hemp plants currently grow in almost every district of Himachal Pradesh but are routinely destroyed by law enforcement agencies due to their potential use in drug trafficking. The report states that the government could tap into this untapped potential, so as to benefit local farmers by introducing hemp cultivation for non-narcotic purposes.
Negi also highlighted the environmental benefits of industrial hemp cultivation. The committee’s research indicated that hemp cultivation has the potential to significantly reduce the carbon footprint. Furthermore, it can be grown with minimal or no reliance on chemical pesticides and fertilisers, making it an environment-friendly crop. Hemp is a versatile plant that can be cultivated in substantial quantities. Its stalks, seeds, and leaves can be utilised in the production of various construction materials, clothing, paper, food products, furniture, cosmetics, healthcare items, and even biofuels. The cultivation of hemp-related industries within the state would not only bolster the economy but also diversify revenue streams.
Uttarakhand, a neighboring state, stands as the only region in India where hemp cultivation for industrial purposes is currently legal. Negi suggested that the excise department could assume the role of licensing and enforcement agency for the legal cultivation of hemp within Himachal. The committee’s exhaustive research involved visits to nearly every district in the state and consultations with representatives from various Panchayati Raj institutions. The overwhelming sentiment among these representatives was in favour of both industrial and medicinal hemp cultivation. They believed that this move would not only enhance the financial well-being of farmers but also provide an additional source of income to the state, ultimately leading to increased self-employment opportunities.
Chief minister Sukhu announced that the committee would soon embark on a foreign tour to study industrial hemp cultivation practices in other countries. The committee has already visited Uttarakhand, Jammu and Kashmir, and Madhya Pradesh to study their experiences and best practices of hemp cultivation.