How hemp cultivation can boost women’s employment?
Hemp, popularly known in the country as “Gaanja” or “Bhaang” grows organically in abundance in the valley. While the flower and fruit of cannabis are banned in India but the dried stalks and seeds are not. In fact, 1 kilogram of the raw fiber can be sold in Uttarakhand for as much as 65 INR. Till recently, people didn’t know much about hemp’s usage and most of the population are still unaware of its vast usage of hemp.
The local farmers of Uttarakhand were cultivating Hemp and using it for their personal use such as making shoes, ropes, etc., and the rest they used to burn. The local farmers were not aware of how many things can be produced by using hemp and its different parts. Through this blog, we will get to know how many employment opportunities can be provided through the cultivation of hemp and how it can boost women’s employment.
Hemp Cultivation in India
While cannabis production, including hemp, is strictly banned in India, Uttarakhand is the first state in the country to have received the license to cultivate it for research and industrial use. However, for this, the farmers are required to use only the low THC seeds that are non-narcotic. A single plant has about 1200 uses. It also gets ready within 4 months, doesn’t attract wild animals, and is not labor-intensive. There is no burden on farmers because of the cultivation of hemp. Moreover, it is beneficial for the environment. So, the cultivation of hemp is a win-win situation. In fact, a lot of farmers are already cultivating hemp but they aren’t fully aware of the vast usage of this plant and the products that can be made out from this.
Hemp cultivation’s role in boosting women’s employment.
In the villages, a lot of men are alcoholics and they often do nothing to earn a living. In this situation, the responsibility to take care of the family and their needs fall on to their wives. There is no option left for them but to work and earn a living for their families. They do odd jobs like cutting grass for others, doing household chores, etc., and earn very little from this. It’s because of the lack of employment opportunities in the villages that they don’t have many options to earn their living. Hemp cultivation can help these women to earn sufficient by providing them different employment opportunities. You must be wondering how, read below to find your answers.
Cultivation of Hemp can provide many employment opportunities. One means of income is through hemp cultivation itself. The others are through processing the fiber to make clothes, then there is the processing of seeds to make CBD oils and protein diets. The CBD oil extracted from it is used to make many Ayurvedic medicines another means of providing employment opportunities.
Many manufacturers, who are aware of this incredible plant are working closely with the farmers to promote the extraction of hemp for industrial use. Not only manufacturers but also the federation of self-help groups have been working to create local resource-based employment for the vulnerable women of different areas of the state. Once the stalks are dried, it is ready to be processed into the fiber. Depending on the quantity, it provides employment opportunities to the women of nearby villages on daily wages of around 300-400 rupees. Which is a much better and stable income for them than the money they earn by doing odd jobs.
On average, one quintal of dried hemp stalks produces about 10 kilograms of processed fiber that is then made into clothes and garments of all kinds. Hemp clothing in fact has been picking up speed as one of the most popular trends in organic and eco-friendly fashion. This gives the local women many employment opportunities throughout the year from the cultivation of the plant, harvesting, processing the stalks into the fiber to making it into clothing and garments.
Hemp clothing is not the only option for employment. There are many hemp products that are popular in the market which can provide much-needed employment opportunities to the local farmers and women such as hemp seeds, protein powder, CBD oil, ropes, paper, etc. So many varieties of a single plant can surely boost women’s employment.
Despite such versatility, hemp is still not gaining the momentum in the market it deserves. The primary reason being the local unavailability of the non-narcotic low THC seeds. We are dependent on foreign countries such as the USA and Australia for low THC seeds. The Indian government and a few other organizations and companies are trying to develop low THC seeds but this needs a lot of research and it’s a time taking process. The government is planning to make these seeds available freely so that the farmers can grow industrial hemp in as much quantity as they want.
Also, despite the license to grow industrial hemp a lot of things are still left unclear like how does one harvest, store or market the product. The government is working on a hemp policy that will make things clear like who will monitor the process of the cultivation of hemp and who will be the stakeholders etc. Once the policy is in place, it will be easier and widely accepted by companies & organizations to cultivate hemp in India.
Despite the challenges on the ground, those working closely in the sector remain hopeful of a future when hemp cultivation would become the backbone of the economy of the country and will provide employment opportunities to local farmers and women.