By Murray McNeill, Winnipeg Free Press
These are high times for hemp.
Not only is demand for hemp products skyrocketing -- Canadian hemp seed exports increased by 300 per cent and hemp oil exports by 85 per cent from 2006 to 2007 -- but one of the country's oldest and largest hemp food producers, Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods & Oils, is moving into a new state-of-the-art processing plant this week that will boost its production capacity by 500 per cent.
And Wednesday, the federal and provincial governments added icing to the cake with the unveiling of a new national strategy for developing the hemp industry in Canada.
"In the last 10 years, the Canadian hemp industry has grown from an emerging niche market to a point where we are now being recognized as a global leader in hemp production," said Mike Fata, chairman of the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance (CHTA) and president and co-founder of Manitoba Harvest Hemp.
"With the province's support, this hemp strategy has given us a road map to new opportunities and continued growth of the hemp industry in Canada."
Fata said the creation of a national strategy gives the industry instant credibility.
"It proves the industry is here and it's not just a fad."
The strategy was announced on the second day of the CHTA's two-day annual meeting and technology conference in Winnipeg.
More than 100 delegates from Canada, the United States, Europe and Korea attended the event, designed to bring industry players up to date on the latest developments within the global hemp industry.