How Hemp can Help India Achieve its Sustainable Development Goals
Originally published at Entrepreneur India.
It is a racing certainty that businesses have an important role to play in preventing climate change. But businesses are predicated on profits, and not long ago, entrepreneurs considering businesses that incorporate climate solutions were thought to be “hare-brained”. However, things have been changing gradually. Ever since the recent re-emergence of the trillion-dollar crop – hemp, dispositions are starting to look good for both climate and entrepreneurs.
Hemp is the common name for the species Cannabis sativa L., which encompasses other sub-species some of which are also used to produce the narcotic substance Marijuana. But, from an industrial perspective, hemp is also known to have about 25,000 applications, which means it can be used to produce something for everyone.
Considering the low input costs owing to the plant’s independence from pesticides, fertilizers and care, cultivation of hemp forms an excellent value proposition. In further support of its case, with an exceptionally high yield of about 10-15 tons of biomass, it is approximately 4 times more than that of forests, at a fraction of the cost.
Hemp Applications and Innovations
Hemp is one of the earliest cultivated crops and was used to produce cordage, food, clothing and so on. It has been under industrial use until pre-World War times. Over the last few years, several hemp innovations have emerged. It has been used to produce a lightweight building material for walling and insulation purposes that has the added benefits of superior thermal performance and carbon negativity; plastic for functions ranging from single-use to automotive components; textiles used for technical as well as apparel and is found to be several times more sustainable than cotton and cheaper to produce; and in electronic applications such as in super-capacitors as a replacement of graphene.
Cannabis’ medicinal uses are well established in traditional as well as modern pharmacopoeia, with ongoing research for cancer treatment, nutraceuticals and palliative care. Certain early-stage research studies (in Ellora caves) have also established hemp’s role in archaeological conservation – a highly ignored lucrative business.
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