A paddock of hemp
Industrial hemp crops could be grown across the Tararua district as the council looks for alternative farming ventures.
Manuka, saffron, flax, feijoas, hazelnuts and now hemp have been identified as suitable crop options for the district, as part of the Go Project by the Tararua District Council.
Economic development and communications manager Lianne Simpkin said the point of the project was to increase the options for farmers and people living on lifestyle blocks to make more money.
A workshop was held in Dannevirke to encourage farmers, business owners and interested people to learn about the benefits of growing industrial hemp.
"Industrial hemp can be used for so many things, like oils or fibre. There's a huge market out there for it. So we are just trying to get people to look at their options. It's about getting people to make the most of their land and maximise their potential for business and revenue options."
Simpkin said Tararua had great soil for growing crops such as hemp, hazelnuts and feijoas, but a lot of the land was being under utilised.
In New Zealand hemp was unable to be used in food, but there was a huge market for it overseas, she said.
As industrial fibre and material, it was a cost-effective crop that was growing in popularity and use in New Zealand, she said.
The Go Project was encouraging traditional farmers like sheep and beef farmers, to plant a small crop as a trial. Then they could see for themselves whether it was a venture that could potentially increase their revenue in the long run, she said.
"There is a market for industrial hemp and we have the right people in the right places to help farmers along the way, so what we are asking people is to just trial it, see if they like it."