5 Juni 2009

Hemp boom in China ahead?

Government officials want 660,000 ha by the year 2020

Officials in southwest China’s Yunnan Province are promoting farming of hemp without a narcotic component for industrial use to increase the income of local residents. A hemp fiber processing factory with an annual capacity of 2,000 tonnes started production Tuesday in Menghai County in Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture, a mountainous region in Yunnan.

Local officials expect the plant to help raise the living standard of farmers. The government provides the seeds for free to encourage cultivation. Farmers can also get technical training and instructions. “Nearly 10,000 farmers are growing the plant, which can double their per capita income from less than 2,000 yuan (293 U.S. dollars) to about 4,000 yuan every year,” said Jiang Pusheng, Communist Party chief of the prefecture. Yang Yonghong from Manlu village plans to plant more hemp next year. “The planting does not demand too much work. Companies will come to collect the hemp in the harvest time, so we are not worried about the sales,” she said.

The hemp contains less than 0.1 percent of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the key ingredient in marijuana, while the cannabis grown for marijuana can contain up to five percent of THC or even more, said Zhang Jianchun, a researcher with the General Logistics Department of the People’s Liberation Army. He has been working on the development and cultivation of the hemp since 2003. “As the hemp grows fast and can spread widely, we are paying close attention to prevent the species damaging the ecosystem in the rain forest.”

By 2020, China will build cultivation bases in the autonomous regions of Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia as well as Yunnan, Heilongjiang, Gansu and Anhui provinces, Zhang said. The farms are expected to cover more than 660,000 hectares and help lift about three million people out of poverty, he said.

As the CFC Group reports, the autonomous region Xishuangbanna of Yunnan has established a 30,000 mu (2.000 ha) ecological agriculture base of hemp since 2006. The planting area will expand to 100,000 mu (about 6,600 ha) this year.

Hemp clothing: Chinese pioneers
In March 2009, Chinese menswear pioneer Youngor Group released its new fibre product, China Hemp. In April 2007, Youngor and Ningbo Yak Technology Industrial Co., Ltd co-invested 200 million RMB (about 20.7 million Euro) to establish China Hemp Industrial Investment Holdings Limited. An industry chain including planting, fibre processing, yarns, product creative design, manufacturing and sales is forming. It is reported that Youngor is planning to open four China Hemp flag-store in Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou and Ningbo respectively.

Source: China.org.cn, 2009-04, China chemical fibres and textiles Consultancy (CFC group), 2009-06-04 und Chiona National Garment Association, 2009-04-09.

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