9 November 2016

The Gisbourne Herald NZ reports..

HIKURANGI Enterprises (https://hikurangi.enterprises)has secured a licence from the Health Ministry to establish a small trial crop of industrial hemp in the Ruatoria area this growing season.

The company wants to see if it can be grown as a crop that can benefit local landowners.

Trust chairman Panapa Ehau said they were not in a hurry, with only a 400m2 plot planned for planting this month.

“The focus is on building our knowledge of this crop and developing the necessary relationships that will lead to a successful entry into a small New Zealand market.”

Hikurangi Enterprises was looking at a wide range of alternative ways of using local whenua that was beneficial for the land, would provide real jobs and make a profit, he said.

“Industrial hemp might provide such an opportunity, with favourable growing conditions and a skilled workforce.”

Mr Ehau said the possibilities were endless for industrial hemp, including foodstuffs, health products, textiles and as an amazing housing solution.

“The East Coast Hemp Organisation (ECHO), based in Hawke’s Bay, has been been putting a lot of focus into overcoming harvesting and processing challenges of industrial hemp and headway is being made.

“We have already learned a lot from others who have tried to grow or are currently growing industrial hemp.”

Mr Ehau said growing the hemp might not be the greatest challenge.

“Harvesting and processing will be a challenge.

“There is no doubt we have the skill base to grow high-quality hemp. The focus is rather on developing market relationships, local capacity and infrastructure to maximise any returns from future crops.”

The Ruatoria-based company has advertised for a crop specialist with expertise assessing soil and climate conditions for commercial crops.

“We are particularly interested in the best soil management practices to maximise gamma-linoleic acid (GLA), protein, and omega 3 and 6 content in hemp seed,” said Hikurangi Enterprises business development manager Manu Caddie.

“We are also keen to understand the critical success factors in the development of taste and aromas in hemp oil.”