Time for a change
For centuries, humans have been defying the laws of nature, to the point of affecting the healthy state of our own ecosystem. In order to meet an ever-growing demand for food and products, governments have consistently encouraged unsustainable practices.
Today’s environmental and health catastrophes are the price the world is paying for the negative externalities deriving from global economic growth based on individualism, greed and disrespect for all other forms of life. Nonetheless, in the face of the most recent events, society appears to acknowledge this and recognise that most of the threats we are now compelled to address are indeed a direct consequence of human intervention. The change of mindset now needs to be translated into concrete proposals and eventually in decisive actions, because only a drastic paradigm shift will enable us to deviate from this dangerous trajectory.
In the forthcoming years, Europe will probably experience a period of decline: the economy has been abruptly slowed down and it will take some time to regain cruising speed. Some forms of productions and trade flows will disappear, while other activities will be relocated within the EU in order to reduce the exposure of our current economic system to global disrupting events. As a consequence, unemployment rates may well increase, and many EU citizens will be obliged to train for new jobs. Therefore, a radical and fresh approach to the economy is required.
In this context, as the representative of hemp farmers, producers and traders, EIHA wants to highlight the huge potential of the European hemp sector in speeding up the transition towards a zero-emission bio-based and sustainable economy, in line with the European Green Deal. By virtue of its sustainable approach to economy and agriculture and its multiple applications as food and manufactured products, the hemp sector offers a promise of regeneration of rural areas. By repatriating manufacturing processes (textiles in particular) and fostering innovative value chains (construction materials, food production, cannabinoids extraction), the sector could deliver long-term sustainable growth and create highly skilled jobs across the EU rural economies. In short, combining locally sourced raw materials with global know-how.
Hemp can play a crucial role in a new greener and more sustainable society by providing a concrete solution for ensuring nutritious food, environmentally friendly non-food products, clean air and soils. Moreover, it represents an interesting crop from an economic point of view: in a mature hemp value chain, with adapted varieties and the possibility to harvest the whole plant (flowers/seeds, leaves and stalks), the economic benefits for farmers and the environment would be undeniable. Consequently, the whole economy of rural areas could be positively impacted.