Australia’s first hemp growers’ co-operative launches in Western Australia

The ABC reports

Some of the hemp co-op’s objectives include the sourcing and importation of certified seed stock from overseas and strengthening industry collaboration and funding.

Bronwyn Blake, a hemp farmer from North Jindong, 250 kilometres south of Perth, has been made the co-op’s chairperson.

“At the moment you’ve got a lot of newcomers coming in, and everyone is right at the very beginning,” Dr Blake said.

“No one quite knows what they’re doing yet. By forming this collaborative weo create a voice for the industry. [We can] give it a bit of power and just help get everyone started on the right foot.”

The first order of business is solving issues of seed sourcing that are plaguing WA growers like Dr Blake.

Her seed stock for the previous year failed to make it through quarantine, leaving her few alternatives for the season.

Rather than individual growers having to “re-invent the wheel”, Dr Blake wants the co-op to bring in seed stock to make it easy for everyone.

“That’s going to be the first thing we do for our growers; supply them with a good, highly-certified seed variety that will help them get started.”

“We’ve selected about three that will hopefully grow in WA. These are the three with the best chance in WA.”

Dr Blake said the seed would be sourced through a partnership with the French co-operative, Hemp-it.

Australian Industrial Hemp Alliance advocates for and collaborates with the industrial hemp industry at a national level.

Its president James Vosper said co-ops were vital to the future success of the burgeoning hemp industry “for the sharing of knowledge and [for] the sharing of resources.”

“Farming and manufacturing tend to be capital intensive. Therefore, to actually establish a competitive industry it is an onerous thing for one company to take on,” Mr Vosper said.

“But if we have co-operatives which operate on a state level, to share machinery, to share labour and to share expertise, then that’s a great thing for the [hemp] industry.”

Mr Vosper said the economic opportunities for an Australian hemp industry were vast.



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