November 17, 2009 – Investing adequately in agriculture can lead to permanent structural transformation and hunger alleviation in Africa. Not only is the food system a major employer of the poor, but it also generates the capital and demand for expansion in non-agricultural sectors.

Consider the large scale growing of Hemp. The US Hemp food sales are experiencing an annual growth rate of 50% according to the US industry research group SPINS. China whose trade GDP quadrupled in 20 years exports Hemp that is grown on its 800,000 acres. Think of how much more Africa could grow.

Hemp is a crop that is multi-beneficial, and a strong step to creating productive, healthy and even prosperous conditions in Africa. Hemp has up to 25 000 potential uses. It is a high plant protein source and can be pressed into nutritious oil essential for our immune system and clearing the arteries of cholesterol and plaque.The oil from hemp seed can be sprouted (Malted) or ground and baked into cake, bread, and casseroles.

Hemp is an environmentally sustainable, economically viable “ancient wonder crop”. Farmers around the world grow it without the use of pesticides or herbicides. Hemp is earth’s number-one biomass resource. Biomass can be converted to methane, methanol, or Gasoline at a cost comparable to petroleum. It can produce 10 times more methanol than corn. The use of hemp fuel does not contribute to global Warming.

One acre of hemp can produce as much usable fiber as four acres of trees or two acres of cotton. Trees may take several years to grow, while hemp can be cultivated in as little as 100 Days and can yield much more paper than tree.

Until 1883, from 75-90% of all paper in the world was made with cannabis hemp fiber. Hemp paper is longer lasting than wood pulp, stronger, acid-free, and chlorine free.

Hemp can as well be a textile solution for Africa as it is softer, warmer, more absorbent and has three times the tensile strength. About 70-90% of all rope, twine, and Cordage was made from hemp until 1937. Hemp withstands heat, mildew, insects, and is not damaged by light. Oil paintings on Hemp and/or flax canvas have stayed in fine condition. Hemp fiber has strong, rot resistant carpeting potential eliminating the allergic reactions associated with new synthetic carpeting.

An acre of full Grown hemp plants can sustainably provide from four to 50 or even 100 times the cellulose found in cornstalks, or sugar cane (the planet’s next highest annual cellulose plants). One acre of hemp produces as much cellulose fiber pulp as 4.1 acres of trees, making hemp a perfect material to replace trees, for pressed board, particle board, and concrete construction molds.

Heating and compressing plant fibers can create practical, inexpensive, fire-resistant construction materials with excellent thermal and sound insulating Qualities. These strong plant fiber materials could replace dry wall and wood paneling.

William B. Coned of Condi’s Redwood Lumber,Inc., in conjunction with Washington State University (1991-1993) demonstrated the superior strength, flexibility, and economy of hemp composite. Archeologists have found a bridge in the South of France from the Merovingian period (500-751 A.D.) built with this process.

Hemp is a wonder plant that Africa should consider growing as a strategy to create wealth for the continent.

Please also see:
Can Hemp Products Save the World?
Canada – Hemp Bringing Highs to Farmers’ Lows