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TAS Country : January 5th 2012
Friday, January 6, 2012 Tasmanian Country 3 News Rising to the hemp challenge ROGER HANSON MAKING HAY: Farmers in Tasmania have started the ball rolling to get permission to grow hemp for wider uses. Sowing seeds for the future INDUSTRIAL hemp could soon be another product that delivers more diversification opportunities to Tas- manian farmers. Hemp has many uses including clothing, ropes and food. Hemp on supermarket shelves is a step closer after Food Standards Aust- ralia New Zealand (FSANZ) called for submissions on its assessment report for an application to allow food derived from hemp. FSANZ chief executive Steve McCutcheon said the amendment would be subject to specified levels of delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The Tasmanian Farmers and Graz- iers Association has made a sub- mission supporting the amendment to allow low THC hemp as a food. TFGA's policy and advocacy man- ager, plant industries, Nick Steele, said hemp was in wide demand in the global marketplace. ''Tasmania is well positioned to provide a quality product to meet this demand,'' Mr Steele said. ''Trials have shown that hemp can be produced efficiently and cost competi- tively in Tasmania and growers are keen to rise to the challenge.'' Mr Steele said Tasmania started to cultivate industrial hemp for commer- cial research in 1991-92. ''Confidence in the Tasmanian in- dustry has fluctuated dramatically over the years because of regulatory issues,'' Mr Steele said. Hemp seed food products may pro- vide an alternative dietary source of nutrients. Hemp seeds contain protein, vit- amins and minerals and polyun- saturated fatty acids, and more omega- 3 acids than seafood. Mr Steele said hemp seed whole, hulled or crushed for oil could be used in food products including muesli bars, cakes, breads, biscuits, butter paste, non-dairy milk, tofu, cheese and ice cream. The essen- tial and cold-pressed oils are also used in cosmetics. Hemp oil had similar therapeutic qualities as evening primrose oil, cod liver oil, flaxseed oil and soybean oil supplements, he said. Dr Sally Bound, from the Perennial Horticultural Centre, Tasmanian Insti- tute of Agriculture, has released her research findings on hemp compost as a component for potting media. Dr Bound said her conclusions from the study's data showed hemp-based composts are a valuable addition to potting media, and that hemp-based compost teas could improve plant growth and yields. Submissions to the assessment report, which are invited by February 1, will assist FSANZ in developing a final decision that will be presented to state, territory and federal health ministers. Hemp or industrial hemp is a can- nabis plant species (Cannabis sativa). Historically, hemp has been used as a source of fibre and oil. Hemp is different from other varieties of Cannabis sativa, commonly referred to as marijuana. Hemp contains no, or very low levels of THC, which is the chemical associ- ated with the psycho-active properties of marijuana. Hemp is cultivated worldwide, in- cluding in Australia and New Zealand, under strict licensing arrangements, and is used in Australia as a source of clothing and building products. At present, hemp cannot be used in food in Australia and NZ as it is prohibited in the Australia New Zea- land Food Standards Code. However, hemp oil has been permit- ted in NZ since 2002 under the New Zealand Food (Safety) Regulations. Hemp is used in other countries, including Canada, the US and many European countries, in a range of foods. FSANZ, a bi-national government agency, as yet has not identified any public health and safety concerns associated with the consumption of hemp foods. View the TFGA's submission on http://www.tfga.com.au/policies/ submissions/ It's a cherry-good time in the orchard BUSY: Pickers Sindri Chapman, Andy Beith and Shawn Little in the Birch's Bay orchard. Picture: NIKKI DAVIS-JONES ROGER HANSON CHERRY growers have swung into action to harvest their delectable summer bounty. The recent burst of warm weather has the fruit prime for the picking. Rohan Kile from D'Entrecasteaux Cherries at Birch's Bay, who started picking with a full crew this week, said the crop seemed to be lighter. ''It's a moderate low yield, it won't be a record tonnage, but it is good quality with good-sized fruit,'' Mr Kile said. D'Entrecasteaux Cherries has been a family owned and operated orchard since 1926. Rohan does the fruit growing with his father Ross and mother Judy. Another member of the family, Ann, value-adds to the raw product by making a variety of jams and spiced cherries. The farm also sells direct to the public with its farm gate stall. Fruit Growers Tasmania business development manager Lucy Gregg said growers were now optimising the conditions, with the forecast for a warm, dry January. ''The crop this year is looking lighter, but it is of high quality,'' Ms Gregg said. The conditions this year are in contrast to last season when rain destroyed a third of the fruit. The Tasmanian cherry season begins in mid to late December and is now starting to peak. ''We had relatively minimal damage from the rain in late December,'' Ms Gregg said. One of the key issues for growers during the warmer spells was managing the cold chain. ''This is to ensure the fruit is kept in premium condition from grower to packhouse through to the market.'' She said some growers stopped picking when the temperature reached a certain level. ''If it is too hot, then it is better to pick early in the day. Trees naturally transpire and this is more evident on very warm days and this can affect fruit quality,'' she said. Most growers use a hydro-cooler to reduce significantly the field temperature of the fruit. ''The cooling down is important for ensuring and maintaining a good shelf life for cherries,'' Ms Gregg said. The cherries are exported to Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong. Hansonr@dbl.newsltd.com.au
December 22nd 2011
January 13th 2012