- Canamo – Spain and Chile
- Hanf – Austria and Germany
- Hanp – Denmark
- Hamppu – Finland
- Hennep – Netherlands
- Kender – Hungary
- Konopli – Russia
- Konoplja – Yugoslavia
- Ma – China
- Penek – Poland
- Taima – Japan
The strokes for the Chinese character depict a home and inside, hemp fibers are hanging from a rack. Used in combination with other characters, ma gives influence to such other Chinese word-meanings as numb, clever, anaesthetic, linen, indifferent, troublesome, sparrow, and the game Mahjongg. Each of these words contains the character for hemp.
Australia allows research crops. In the state of Victoria, commercial production began in 1998; and in Tasmania, in 1995. New South Wales and Queensland are also in various stages of research and production. There are also thriving businesses selling hemp products.
Austria has a hemp industry, including production of hemp seed oil and medicines.
Canada began licensing fiber research crops in 1994 and one seed crop in 1995. By 1997, many acres were planted. As of 2002, there were over 35,000 acres (14,200 hectares) planted. A number of Canadian farmers are now growing organically certified hemp crops. As an historical fact, the Doukabours, a Christian vegetarian freedom sect living in western Canada since the early 1900s, apparently prepared hempseed paste for food when they were in Russia. In the New World, they resumed growing and using hemp for food and fiber both before and after prohibition.
Chile grows hemp mostly for seed oil production.
China still produces the largest commercial hemp crop. Hemp has a long history in China, where it has been a primary survival food for thousands of years. Near the end of WWII, hemp saved multitudes of starving people in northern China. General Counsel Ralph Loziers of the US National Institute of Oilseed Production told a congressional committee in 1937: “Hempseed is used in all the Oriental nations and also in a part of Russia as food. It is grown in their fields and used as oatmeal. Millions of people every day are using hempseed in the Orient as food. They have been doing this for many generations, especially in periods of famine”. The seed crop is roasted for domestic snacks and oil where almost 40% is exported.
Until the 1980s, hemp was the primary fiber for clothing and has never ceased being used to make paper. During the century from 1890 to 1990, the hemp industry declined, but started to increase in the 1990s. Many people have always had their own tiny plots of hemp, which also grows abundantly around many temples. Because the Chinese system is socialist, business efforts are directed by the government. Scientists have been directed to research non-wood paper production alternatives; and, although hemp is by no means the only non-wood fiber that could be used, their conclusion is that it is the best, most productive, economical, and ecologically-beneficial fiber.
China remains the world’s largest exporter of hemp paper and textiles. Hemp textiles today are regarded by most Chinese as old-fashioned. Unfortunately, the trend there is to emulate Western styles. Most Chinese hemp pulp contains the whole stalk of both bast and hurd fibers which are pulped together in their natural percentages for paper-making. Hemp pulp is also used to strengthen other fibers that would otherwise not be strong enough on their own to make paper. Generally, between 5% and 25% hemp content is common in paper used domestically in China; but 100% hemp content is used for very thin specialty peper and currency.
In China, fiber hemp is designated by colour. Various varieties will produce red, yellow, and green; but the properties of the three types of fiber are identical. Hemp has three uses: textiles, paper, and seed production. The bast fiber is used primarily for textiles. When it is stripped from the stalk, it is generally done in the field by hand since 80% of the Chinese people work in agriculture. Most hemp is dew-retted and takes up to three weeks for the bacterial action to break down the leaves and stalks for easier removal of the bast fiber. This does limit the usefulness of hurds for animal bedding though.
Hemp has always played a major role in funeral rites. (See History of Hemp 300 BCE.)
Denmark planted its first modern hemp trials in 1997. The country is committed to utilizing organic agriculture methods.
Egypt, Korea, Portugal, Thailand, and Ukraine also produce hemp.
Europe is showing a renewed interest in growing hemp, and well it should since it has a long history with the hemp plant. Hempseed was an abundant food of the rural poor in the 15th century because of increased hemp production for fiber that supplied colonial ships with sails and rope. The raw material came from the traditional hemp cultivation zones in northeastern Europe, where hempseed was made into vegetable oil, hempseed meal, and a smooth paste similar to peanut butter.
Eating hempseed porridge made them more resistant to diseases than the nobility, who considered hemp foods to be of the lower classes. Monks were sustained by three meals a day of hempseed in the form of porridge, gruel, or soup.
In Latvia, hempseed is traditionally included in festival foods on St. John’s Day. In Latvia and Ukraine, a hempseed dish is served on Three Kings’ Day; and in Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Ukraine, a hempseed soup, called semientiatka, is eaten on Christmas Eve.
Southern Slavs offered hempseed at weddings to ensure happiness and wealth. (Perhaps it was tossed instead of rice). European peasants planted hempseed on all the saints’ days.
Finland has had a resurgence of hemp beginning in 1995 with several small test crops.
France harvested 10,000 tons of hemp in 1994 and is the main source of viable low-THC hemp seed. See the article Fiber Hemp in France for more information.
Germany banned hemp in 1982, but liftedthe ban in 1995 after research on new hemp use began in 1992. As a result, many technologies and products are being developed. Clothes and paper are currently made from imported raw materials.
Great Britain lifted its hemp prohibition in 1993 when only 300 acres were planted. A government grant was given to develop new markets for natural fibers, and 4,000 acres were grown in 1994. Since then, animal bedding, paper, and textiles have been developed. Subsidies of £230 per acre (£93 per hectare) are given by the government for growing hemp. It is well known that without hemp, the British navy would not have been the immense power it was. The sails and rigging were made of long strands of hemp fiber, and the sails from heavy hemp canvas. The rigging of the largest sailing ships weighed 50 to 100 tons. Hemp was used because it was the strongest natural fiber, gained strength when it was wet, did not become brittle or crack in extremely cold environments, and lasted the longest. A 100-ton ship’s rigging required about 200 acres of hemp and a fleet of 50 ships require 10,000 acres (15 square miles).
Hungary is rebuilding its 1,000-year-old hemp industry. It is one of the biggest exporters of hemp cordage, rugs, and hemp fabric to the United States. Hungary also exports hemp seed and hemp paper. In 1991 there were about 6,500 hectares of hemp growing in two eastern areas, a mere remnant of a once-thriving industry. The Soviet army used hemp in the far north where the extremely low temperatures made plastics and synthetic fibers brittle and unusable. The empire’s dissolution and Russia’s subsequent near bankruptcy virtually eliminated Hungary’s principal customers. Consequently, hemp production has become a specialty item.
India has large stands of wild hemp and uses it for cordage, textiles, and seed oil. Since ancient times, hempseed has been pressed to provide oil for flavoring food and is still eaten by the poor, who consider it a tasteful and nutritious staple of their diet. They mix it with goosegrass to make bosa, or with wheat and rice or amaranth to make mura.
Italy has licensed 2,500 acres (1,018 hectares) for hemp fiber cultivation as a pilot project. The crop will be made into cloth for designer Georgio Armani and others.
Japan has a religious tradition that requires the Emperor to wear hemp garments, so there is a small plot maintained for the imperial family only. Some hemp is legally grown in the central part of the country, but Japan continues to import hemp for cloth and artistic applications.
Netherlands is conducting a four-year study to evaluate and test hemp for paper, and is in the process of developing the necessary processing equipment. Seed breeders are also developing new strains of low-THC varieties. In 1989, a $10 million four-year integrated research program which was to develop hemp as a crop for use in a non-polluting paper industry began. The report by the government’s agricultural department’s research center was released in 1994.
Nicaragua produces two hemp crops per year on 4,000 acres of a tropical engineered variety of hemp developed by a private company (Hemp-Agro International) located in Nicaragua and Canada. This variety called Zolguanica ’95’ was introduced in 1995 in conjunction with Ukranian and Chinese seed stock.
Poland currently grows hemp for fabric and cordage, and manufactures particleboard. Farmers there have a long tradition of growing hemp and have demonstrated the benefits of using hemp to cleanse soils contaminated by heavy metals since many toxic sites were left by the Russian army during its 45-year occupation. In fact, it has been found that hemp takes more metals from the soil than any other plant tested.
Romania is the largest commercial producer of hemp in Europe. In 1993, they had a total cultivation area of 40,000 acres (16,200 hectares). Some hemp is exported to Hungary for processing. Romania also exports to Western Europe and the United States.
Russia maintains the largest hemp germ plasm collection in the world at the N. I. Vavilov Scientific Research Institute of Plant Industry (VIR) in Saint Petersburg. The institute needs money to pay curators to maintain this collection and to prevent it from being lost.Sloveniagrows hemp and manufactures currency paper.
South Africa has identified a demand for hemp fiber. European hemp cultivars are not adapted to the shorter daylight periods of South Africa and research was carried out to develop a suitable cultivar for the region. During the 1997/98 season, a breeding program began but currently, since both hemp and dagga are classified as Cannabis, it remains illegal to grow hemp in South Africa. It has long been known that Suto mothers weaned their children with hempseed and bread or mealie pap.
Spain grows and exports hemp pulp for paper and produces rope and textiles.
Switzerland is one of Europe’s major hemp producers.
United States granted the first hemp permit in 40 years to Hawaii for an experimental quarter-acre (0.10 hectare) plot in 1999. However, importers and manufacturers have long thrived using imported raw materials and food products. Legislators in Vermont, Hawaii, North Dakota, Montana, Maine, Illinois, Virginia, California, Arizona, and Maryland have passed bills to support research into hemp cultivation. Three states – Colorado, Arkansas, and Missouri – have initiatives pending.