A new public-private partnership bringing together universities with hemp industry participants will help address challenges faced by the USA’s hemp sector.
Last week, the Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) announced it was committing up to $2.5 million to establish the Hemp Research Consortium, with other members kicking in matching funds.
“The Hemp Research Consortium aims to conduct highly collaborative, transdisciplinary research that leverages the technical and intellectual resources across the academic and industry partners,” said Consortium director and assistant professor at NC State University Dr. David Suchoff.
Knowledge developed by the Consortium will be made publicly available through scientific publications, data-sharing and distribution of research as deemed appropriate.
Two of the major barriers to be addressed by the initiative are the financially risky nature of hemp currently, much of which falls on the shoulders of growers, and the lack of research resulting from decades of prohibition in the USA. It was only in 2018 when hemp was finally recognised as a legal agricultural crop at the federal level.
The Consortium’s research focus includes:
- Hemp breeding and genetics
- Production systems, including pest and disease management
- Controlled environment production systems
- Novel product development and engineering
- Training of a diverse workforce
Other members and institutions participating in the venture include Agilent Technologies, Cornell University, IND HEMP, International Hemp, NC State University, Oregon CBD, The Scotts Company, University of Kentucky and U.S. Sugar.
IND Hemp President Ken Elliot said hemp is a crop that can change the way we live for the better.
“It provides an amazing food product that can feed the billions of people that call our world home, it provides a fiber product that is versatile to the point of creating millions of new jobs and it can help us clean up our environment that we’ve neglected for far too long,” he stated.
And of course added to that list is hemp’s medicinal applications, primarily in the form of CBD (cannabidiol).
Congress established FFAR in the Agricultural Act of 2014 to leverage public and private resources with view to boosting scientific and technological research, innovation, and partnerships critical to enhancing the USA’s agricultural economy.