Encouraging Hemp Cultivation in Ireland

After the DAFM (Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine) published a report on fiber crops production, Senator Victor Boyhan expressed that the government should encourage hemp cultivation in Ireland.

The report describes a consultation process around the possibilities of growing fiber crops on Irish soil and if there is a viable market from these crops.

It stated that Irish farmers can grow hemp successfully on their land. If they pursue this, it will benefit the environment while giving them an option for crop-rotation and diversification.

However, the report also pointed out that although there is a market in the construction industry, just cultivating hemp for the production of fiber is not viable enough in Ireland because the product has low value.

In order to turn this into a viable crop, it will need a significant infusion of capital, market stability, and for all stakeholders in the supply chain to work together toward a common goal.

At the end of the report, it said that although the consultation showed that fiber crops like hemp are currently not viable in Ireland, it opens up a conversation in the industry to explore and discuss viable options that can be brought to the table.

Senator Boyhan has been a proponent of hemp cultivation in Ireland for cbd capsules etc, and he pointed out that the government should also consider the other benefits and uses that hemp can provide.

He provided the following examples:

  • In addition to construction, hemp can be used in a wide spectrum of industries including healthcare, biofuels, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, marine and auto, apparel, animal bedding, paper, foods and beverages.
  • Hemp seeds are a rich source of nutrients like fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6. These healthy fats have been reported to lower blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglycerides.
  • Hemp oil from seeds is used in cooking, in personal care, and in health supplements. It can be used in paints for industrial applications.

Currently, cultivating hemp in Ireland is illegal unless you have a special license granted by the HPRA (Health Products Regulatory Authority).

The DAFM presented statistics. From 2016 to 2019, it showed that the amount of Irish land where hemp was grown increased. From 2019 to 2022, however, this amount of land decreased, from 316 hectares (781 acres) to just 72 hectares (178 acres).

On the other hand, according to Eurostat, hemp production in the rest of Europe continues to increase. In 2015, 19,970 hectares (49,347 acres) were cultivated for hemp growth in Europe. That grew to 33,300 hectares (82,286 acres) in 2021. 55% of this came from France.