Hemporium’s Tony Budden was invited to speak at the world’s largest hemp gathering, the NoCo Hemp expo in Colorado, last month.
09 – 05 – 18
The event was sold out on both days, with over 150 exhibitors and 75+ speakers. This was a great indication of the growth of the industry in a relatively short time in Colorado and the rest of the States that allow hemp to be grown.
Tony presented his talk titled “Correcting the Ecological Balance of our Planet” on the opening morning on the main stage, as well as being on an International Panel giving updates from Africa later. On day 2 he also gave a “Hemp 101” workshop together with hemp legends Agua Das and Caren Kershner.
The energy and enthusiasm of the American industry was plain to see. There was such diversity of products and different people from farmers, extractors, processors, manufacturers, marketers, activists, politicians and indigenous people’s rights protectors.
The CBD supplement market took centre stage with everything from CBD gummies to tinctures, salves, sprays, drinks and more. Several different extraction equipment manufacturers were also showing their latest products.
Hemp fashion was also on show, with several great brands like Envirotextile, Rawganique and Vital Hemp showing their latest styles. EnviroTextile’s Barbara Filipone was also showing the results of her small-scale decorticator that is separating the hemp fibre from the hurd very effectively.
There were several hemp building companies showing their latest developments, including Kevin Hodge from Hemp Adobe, who has a great mix that sets rock hard in just a few hours.
Greenspring technologies and Sana packaging were showing progress in the hemp plastic and packaging space, which is always very inspiring to see.
Pure Hemp contributed an amazing stand made completely from hemp stalks.
It was interesting to hear that some of the farmers, who had been attracted to the higher returns of CBD flowers, were returning to the fibre and seed space. Growing flowers for the nutraceutical market is very hands-on and is horticulture, where every plant and flower is looked after. There is much more compliance needed, especially around any chemical use. Some farmers prefer the agriculture side of planting seeds, irrigating and fertilizing, and then returning for harvest after a few months. They found the flower side too intensive. This is good for the longevity of the fibre and food side of the industry, and Colorado is seeing another spike in acreage this year.
The sector has provided many thousands of jobs in the State, and the range of professions that are benefitting from this burgeoning industry is very impressive, something that we would love to see in South Africa.
Legally there is no limit on how much a registered hemp farmer can grow in Colorado, as long as the plants are less that 0.3% THC which is tested for before harvest. There is a push for the limit to be increased to 1% as this opens up many more varieties to be grown that are slightly higher than the 0.3% current cut-off.
All in all the event was a raging success, and Tony arrived back in SA very grateful and inspired by what he saw there. The hospitality from the American hempsters was greatly appreciated. Now we just need the South African Government to create the enabling environment for our own farmers and businesses to grow and process locally and take advantage of what this amazing hemp plant and industry can offer.