People have been cultivating hemp longer than any other textile fiber. Hemp textile use goes back as far as 8000 B.C. when Hemp was first woven into fabric, eventually providing 80% of the world’s textiles. By 2700 B.C hemp textiles, as well as other medicinal uses for plant, were incorporated into a majority of the cultures in the Middle East, Asia minor, India, China, Japan, and Africa. Within the next 1000 years, hemp grew to be the worlds largest agricultural crop and provided for many important industries such as fiber for textiles and ropes, lamp oil for lighting, paper, medicine and food for humans and domesticated animals. All this comes as no surprise considering that hemp is the largest and strongest plant fiber, twice as strong as ubiquitous cotton. Because it is extremely abrasion and rot resistant, it was the primary source for canvas, sail, rope, as well as clothing, military uniforms, shoes, and baggage, until man-made fabrics were introduced. It fell out of popularity in the west as manmade materials slowly gained popularity. Though not as sustainable, they become the primary textiles as economical and political considerations were made by governments who wanted to promote industry. Hemp is the common name for plants of the entire genus Cannabis, although the term is often used to refer only to Cannabis strains cultivated for industrial (non-drug) use. Industrial hemp has many uses, including paper, textiles, biodegradable plastics, construction, health food, and fuel. It is one of the fastest growing biomasses known, and one of the earliest domesticated plants known. It also runs parallel with the "Green Future" objectives that are becoming increasingly popular. Hemp requires little to no pesticides, no herbicides, controls erosion of the topsoil, and produces oxygen. Furthermore, hemp can be used to replace many potentially harmful products, such as tree paper (the processing of which uses chlorine bleach, which results in the waste product polychlorinated dibensodioxins, popularly known as dioxins, which are carcinogenic, and contribute to deforestation), cosmetics, and plastics, most of which are petroleum-based and do not decompose easily. The strongest chemical needed to whiten the already light hemp paper is non-toxic hydrogen peroxide.
In another way. Generally, the hemp plant, scientifically known as Cannabis Sativa, is best known for three things: narcotics from its leaves, oil from its seeds, and white bast fiber from its stem. It is a self-sustaining weed that can grow in many climates, but a mild humid climate (such as that of Nepal’s hill regions) is the most suitable for fiber production. And because this plant has been around in Nepal for centuries, Nepali people have used it for all its purposes historically. For centuries, villagers have extracted fibers from both hemp and wild nettle plants to wave mats, sacks, bags, fishing nets, ropes, and carry straps. Communities that are days away from roads, have learned to rely on themselves to provide textiles, rather than relying on deliveries from outside.
The process for fiber extraction, the way it is done by hand in Nepal, is slow and involved. The plant is mainly harvest in august and then left out to dry. It is than soaked in water for several days. Afterward the plants fibrous portion is teased out, twisted, sun dried, beaten (to soften it), and spun. But that’s not the end of the process. After spinning, the thread is boiled with water and wood ash and, finally, washed many times. However, as laborious and time consuming as this process may be, the result is a crudely processed and rough material that, by todays standards, can not be used for clothes. Although today you will find scores of hemp goods dealers and exporters around kathamndu valley, using locally grown and processed hemp for their natural fiber clothes.
Why not in Nepal to legalize to grow for better use of Hemp regarding to increase export and provide employment???
Hemp is eco friendly plant. Hemp is sustainable, its versatile and it can provide jobs. Many entrepreneurs in Kathmandu valley are trying to advance it, and not just help for themselves. They see the potential of this “weed”, better hemp clothing febric, soap and other number of uses. Country like Nepal which is full of hills could be in better use planting hemp plants. This will directly help empowering manpower as well earning. The natural fibers industry in Nepal is not only a matter of business, but also matter of rural and economical development. Both hemp and nettle do not use up arable land, valuable in Nepals mountainous terrain where endless plains where food can be grown do not exist. If it is grown properly, hemp even can be extremely beneficial for soil structure because of its deep root system and production of biomass.
If hemp could be grown and processed on a larger scale right here in Nepal, it would provide desperately needed jobs and a source of income for villagers who have no options for work in their villages. That’s would be new Nepal you know. They way life just than will emerge.
Recent Hemp News in Nepal (Source : kathmandu Post. Kathmandu-June 6 By: Sanjeev Satgainya)
Though cannabis farming was banned in Nepal in 1976, its illegal farming is still rampant. Almost every day there are reports of police seizing cannabis being smuggled to India. According to police, in the last one week alone around 200 quintals of cannabis was seized in Bara and parsa districts. In the last four months, police have seized 7656 kilo grams of cannabis accross the country. During the same Period, police destroyed cannabis farmed in around 62 hectares of land family in the Terai. According to police records, in 1991 cannabis beign grown in 1400 hectres of land was destroyed, the most in one single year. Even the 1400 hectares is just the tip of the iceberg. "Cannabis is being farmed in as much as 90 times more than this area", said deputy superintendent of Police Dibash Raj Udash add the Narcotic Drug Control Law Enforcement Unit ( NDCLWU). "During the insurgency, we saw a slight decline in cannabis farming as security network was strong but in the past two to three year, the farming has increased in a rapid pace," added Udash. Political instability and impunity are reasons Udash attributes for the ever increasing illegal farming of cannabis.
"Even if we intend to destroy the produce in this area we need a huge number of personnel and bigger budget", added Udash. Last fiscal, the NDCLWU at the Home Ministry had allocated Rs 50,000 and Rs 25,000 to parsa and Bara districts, which is just a drop in the ocean, to curb cannabis farming, which is widespread in Saptari, Siraha and Mahottari districts as well. "We have directed the local administration to destroy such farms but it has not been as effective, "conceded Shankar Koirala, joint secretary at the Home Ministry. "If there is demand from the local administration for more budget to control cannabis farming, we initiate the process to provide them the money."
Farmers are interested in cannabis farming because it fetches a hefty price compared to other produce. It fetches around 60-80 times more than paddy or wheat. One kilo gram of cannabis is sold at around NRs 2000 - 3000, said Udash. Someone found engaged in cultivation of cannabis can be slapped up to three years of jail term and imposed of fine of Rs 25000.0. However, there are few cases of conviction because of political interference, authorised said.
According to Koirala, public participation is imperative if cannabis farming is to be combated successfully. Around 341,751 hectares of land is cropped area in Nepal for grains, paddy, maize, wheat, barley and millet and 414,304 hectares of land is used for cash crop. "Lands in the terai that are most fertile are being used for cannabis farming instead of grains or cash crop and this practice is causing food insecurity," said Hari Dahal, spokeperson at the Ministry of Agriculture.