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Demand for hemp seed drives new crop of growers in Tasmania keen to ride the high

Australia's booming market for hemp seed in breads, cereals, protein powders and protein bars is spurring on a new wave of growers in Tasmania cashing in on the fast-growing crop.

The island state already produces almost two thirds of the national commercial hemp crop.

That figure is set to grow on the back of increased consumer demand for plant-based protein and a supply shortage in other parts of the country due to drought.

Tasmania has been growing hemp on a small scale since the 1990s for fibre and cosmetics.

When laws changed in 2017 to allow hemp seed to be sold as food, farmers began to take the crop more seriously.

Hemp Association of Tasmania president, Tim Schmidt, said the number of growers have jumped from 29 last season to 49 this year.

Key points:

  • Tasmania produces 66 per cent of Australia's hemp seed
  • The state's crop is worth almost $5 million at the farm gate
  • A crop costs farmers $1,300 a hectare and pays $3 a kilogram

 

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Tas Country Hour (18 March 2019)