The firm, Textile and Composite Industries has keen interest to build a healthy business relation with prospective growers of hemp in New South Wales' Macquarie Valley. Adrian Clarke's company has developed a mobile 'decorticator' which can process the hemp in the field. He and his marketing Director Charles Kovess have been to the valley recently for the same prospects.
According to the growers, hemp is a fibre that has been gaining favour as an efficient user of water, and as an ecologically sound crop for farmers to include in their rotation. Hemp also has a short growing period and leaves a large amount of organic matter in the soil; they are finding in Europe that it has a very beneficial effect on later crops.
But hemp has been hard to sell to growers in the past. Itâ€™s a bulky crop and needs to be processed close to where it's grown. Even this year irrigators in New South Wales' Macquarie Valley are looking for water-wise crops as their dam has only 19 per cent capacity of water.
There aren't any processing plants in the region, and that has limited the crop's potential. Hemp is still a very small player in the big fibre picture, only providing a minimal amount of grown fibres used in manufacturing today. Hemp is still a cottage industry, both in Australia and internationally.
Mr. Clarke has been working on improving the potential for modern industrial hemp for 20 years. He says the fact that his machine is mobile, is the great leap forward. He is enthusiastic about the properties of hemp, its versatility as a source of raw materials, and the fact that it requires less water than many other irrigated crops.
Marketing Director of Textile and Composite Industries Charles Kovess, says the potential is enormous, but the task now is to match up the potential demand and the potential supply and develop both ends in balance with each other.
But he is confident, from the reception that they've had in the Macquarie Valley that they'll see probably from four or five farmers, 100 hectares planted this season.
That would produce 300 tonnes of fibre, 700 tonnes of hurd and that would start getting this industry happening in Dubbo.
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