Farmers, Entrepreneurs, Policymakers, Teagasc
• Hemp should be promoted as it is an extremely useful and very sustainable crop. There are different varieties of hemp. The variety of hemp used in food production is different to that used for fibre, plastics and building materials. Hemp can be grown on set-aside land and is good at fixing nitrogen in the soil and thus improving soil fertility and enhances crop rotation. Hemp seed oil is widely used in Ireland due to its many positive health benefits.
• A Teagasc report on hemp (www.teagasc.ie/publications/2010/862/862_hemp.pdf) describes it as a high yielding annual fibre crop producing cellulose, edible proteins, and oils with over 50,000 different product applications across an array of industries. Conventional farm equipment can be used. Although the Teagasc report advises use of nitrogen fertilizers, the document states no need for pesticides. Hemp can also be grown as a biofuel.
• Flax (also known as linseed) is another useful food and fibre crop. Flax is grown for its oil, used as a nutritional supplement and as an ingredient in many products (paints, varnish, linoleum, printing inks and paper). Flax fibers are used to make linen. Flax seeds and oil have many culinary uses and many nutritional and health benefits. As an industrial crop linseed receives very favourable Arable Aid support from the EU.
• The development of a domestic flax cultivation has been limited because of a lack of an oil crushing facility on the island of Ireland.
• Opportunities exist for entrepreneurs to set up such a plant. However, grant aid assistance from the state might be required.
A Teagasc produced report on a number of crops with potential in Ireland including flax
Adora Flax Farm, Dooary, Ballyroan, Co. Laois