Perseverance leads to hemp approval
Otago Daily Times (Dunedin, New Zealand)
Tue, 19 Aug 2008
The first hemp crop to come from New Zealand seed will be grown in the
Catlins this summer in a move its backers believe could open up a new
lucrative option for New Zealand farmers.
Long-time industrial hemp campaigner Mack McIntosh has fought
officialdom for more than two years to get clearance to grow and market
the only New Zealand-manufactured hemp cultivar.
A letter recently arrived in his Tawanui mailbox, confirming the
Director-general of Health had approved his "Aotearoa 1" cultivar to be
used to grow hemp for industrial purposes.
He likened the news to winning his own Olympic gold medal.
It also means growers no longer have to import seed from Canada to grow
commercial hemp crops.
The approval gives New Zealand growers the chance to mass-produce hemp
by-products, ranging from clothing and soaps to biofuels.
Mr McIntosh came close to giving up on his battle for permission, but
yesterday said he had renewed energy to grow the crop and see hemp
become a new export and commercial possibility.
The Clutha Agricultural Development Board has been involved with Mr
McIntosh's push for approval and believes hemp crops could provide
farmers with an exciting land use alternative, especially in marginal
areas where very little other forms of agriculture were possible.
Board spokesman Malcolm Deverson said its membership on the Catlins
Industrial Hemp Group would now focus on establishing the Tawanui crop
Planting would happen towards the end of this year, with the harvest
about late March-early April.
The area's latitude (46.5deg south) makes it not only the southernmost
hemp-growing area in the world, but offers some of the best growing
Mr McIntosh said he could understand why his application took so long
because it was the first of its kind to be considered by health officials.
Mr McIntosh would own the seed stock initially, but he hoped the Catlins
group would eventually own it and market it nationwide and globally.
Mr Deverson hoped to promote the hemp seed development to potential users.
He also believed several farmers might be interested in growing small
hemp crops in the south, offering the catalyst to develop a new