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Hemp and National Industry Program of the Czech Republic 2005

29/09/06

Hemp and National Industry Program of the Czech Republic 2005

 

Hemp and National Industry Program of the Czech Republic 2005

In the former Czechoslovakia, technical hemp was being grown still on more than 10 000 hectares, while in the seventies a complete ban on growing was issued, which was only lifted six years ago. Test areas, on which two legal varieties “Benico” and “Uso”, have not exceeded 150 hectares, while natural fiber is being imported for car and paper industries in amount equaling 5000 to 10 000 hectares of land.

There are several reasons for this: negotiations with the EU only referred to flax; farmers no longer know the technology of growing hemp including the important operation of dewing; there is no machinery available for harvest and further processing; subsidies common with flax do not include hemp; and, finally, not a single research proposed project was confirmed or executed.

Hemp is an extraordinary plant with a minimum requirements for land, special mechanics, great dependence on demand and economy connected to it.

Hemp provides very firm fiber, wooden-like scotching, and seeds with high content of oil. When grown exclusively for fiber, hemp is sown thicker and harvested already in August at its peak biological development; when grown exclusively for seeds, it is sown more scarcely and harvested only towards the end of September and the beginning of October.

Growing hemp is not a business for a single farm. It requires necessarily a thought-through cooperation of growers within a region, its primary as well as end processors. In Europe, it is usually the end user initiating growing – for example a car, paper, or construction industry, which orders and often financially and mechanistically enables growing necessary for its needs in advance. In the Czech Republic, technical hemp remains to be an interesting plant only thanks to interest groups and a few farmers, or small “metal-smiths”, trying to design functional models of growing, harvesting, and processing lines.

That is also the reason why the Czech Hemp Association came to existence. It is trying to reintroduce technical hemp to Czech fields as well as to processing plants, bringing it to various industries.

We have contacted individual regions and within the framework of sustainable development, we offered them our hemp program entitled “Hemp as the alternative for Czech agriculture and industry,” about which the Minister of Agriculture and Prime Minister of the Czech Republic have been informed.

We are offering an alternative for farmers, industry— and consequently—for various businesses.

We aim for every region to establish small hemp industrial centers able to process 7 400 to 10 000 tons of hemp fiber annually, especially in the form of tow (single fiber) for both woven and unwoven materials and high-quality paper (recently, a test has been run in Olšany paperworks to produce hemp paper), or as many as 2000 to 2600 tons of long fiber for textile industry, if the fiber is successfully produced in our conditions. The above-mentioned amount of fiber could replace as many as 50% of the imported flax fiber.

The Central Bohemia region of Rakovnicko can serve as an example, since it is here where the first growing, processing, and industrial center is opening.

The basic prerequisite for regional success is a sufficient growing area within the range of 70 to 100km from functional scutching line, together with mechanisms for harvesting. At present, a test run is being in progress of a small mobile farmer’s scotching line system Benedikt-Hevr, capable of processing about 500kg of the pressed stalks per hour. It is also the only one processing the technical hemp at present in the country at this moment. In the future, we count on a yearlong two-shift working that would provide several jobs as well as processing of the raw hemp from around 300ha of growing area—i.e. processing around 2000 to 2500 tons of the pressed hemp stalks per year in a single region. From technical hemp, it is possible to get almost 23% of high-quality fiber and about 75% of scutch, with some waste, which is usable in construction industry, for instance.

We intend to promote gradual investment, construction, and operation of the following machinery in such hemp industry centers:

Scutching line to process technical hemp, factory for pellets and briquettes of hemp scutch, manufactures with presses for pressing hemp oil that can be used in both food industry (bakeries, oil for uncooked meals) and for production of paint or lacquers, for cosmetics or energetic purposes (use for energetic purpose of hemp seed pressed into bio-pellets with calorific capacity of lignite – brown coal; these can be burnt with together with lignite in coal boilers or together with wood in current wood boilers, or as bio-fuel admix to propellants). An option for a sample “demonstration” automobile has appeared in the Czech market that should use alternative ecological propellant. The model Skoda Octavia 1.9 TDI – a car used for long distances. The propellant is based on alternative fuel of bio-oils acquired from random oil seeds by cold-pressing. This alteration of the engine is based on adding appropriate parts modifying the temperature of the bio-fuel before it enters the combustion engine to the fuel tank and the cooling system of the engine. You can find more information at www.konopi.info.

We are also planning to build co-generation units able to produce heat and electricity, thus ensuring self-sufficiency of individual towns and villages.

Scutch can be used as bedding for livestock, for fowl factory farming; gradually, more production can come to existence, related to the activity.

This matter with woody quality is suitable for making construction pouring mixes, plasters, or as construction insulation; for making screen walls, slabs, etc. At present, processing hemp materials is being tested for construction industries.

This is an opportunity for various industries and businesses, of an almost unlimited range.

Some regions have already offered the Czech Hemp Association to participate in projects aimed at country development using biomass as a whole. One of the regions is also Liberec region, which has been preparing a complex program consisting of a set of partial projects, with a general name of “Biomass – sustainable source of energy in Liberec region”.

The final form of the accredited project will become an example of conceptual and subsidized material for the first stage of development of this field in Liberec region. We firmly believe other regions will join. It is a challenge we want to respond to.

The entire world is coming back to natural sustainable resources and is looking for alternatives to the current exhaustive industrial management.

Even in our conditions, it is necessary to learn how to use sustainable resources, since rock oil and fossil fuels resources are running low. It is of high importance to find ways considerate to natural resources, to environment, and to all living organisms, so that a sustainable development can be achieved.

We need to begin with a basic, large-scale and multifarious research. It is necessary to begin with choosing the best-fitting varieties, growing and harvesting technologies, development of mechanization – from processing the hemp to developing final products marketable to end-users. At the beginning, it is we who has to offer something. On the other hand, it is the consumers of the material processing and using it who must come with final impulses; as well as the government of the Czech Republic, which should include growing and processing of technical hemp into its National Industry Program while ensuring ecologic taxation for the entire processing series – beginning with growers, producers, sellers, and the end-user.

If growing of the technical hemp is accepted—which depends largely on the political will of the government (Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Local Development, and Ministry of Industry and Trade)—but also on continual interest of potential consumers, hemp can start playing an important role in the field of excessive production of food on arable land, of local development of employment in the country, of industry and energy-production, and even in research. Subsidies from the Czech Republic budget, as well as from the European Union could help this.

So let the hemp grow!

Orientation Prognosis of the Extent of Growing Technical Hemp in the Czech Republic after 2004

There are no legal, hygienic, or environment protection regulations impeding growing technical hemp in the Czech Republic.

T1 Prognosis of the Consumption of Hemp Fiber and Growing Areas of Technical Hemp in the Czech Republic after 2010

Potential processor

Product

Amount of fiber

Growing areas (ha) according to fiber yield (2, – t/ha) (1,2 t/ha)

Region for growing

Borgers, Rokycany

Car interiors

600 – 1000

500 to 830

West Bohemia

Faurecia Lecotex, Tabor

Car interiors

300 – 500

150 to 420

South Bohemia

Reiter CZ Chocen

Car interiors

300 – 500

150 to 420

East Bohemia

Juta, Technolen

Sackcloth, ropes, sails

500 – 800

250 to 670

East Bohemia

Olsanske papirny

Cigarette paper

3000 – 5000

1500 to 4170

Highlands, Moravia

Lenka-Kacov spinning factory

Homogeneous fiber, yarn

2000 – 2600

1000 to 2170

Central Bohemia, Moravia

Planned factory

Insulation slabs

2000 – 2600

1000 to 2170

Bohemia, Moravia

Planned factory

Replacement of asbestos

600 – 1000

500 to 830

Central Bohemia

Total

9300 – 14000

5050 to 11680

Czech Republic

Materials for the document prepared by Ing. Václav Sladký, CSc. from VÚZT and Marie Široká, Chairperson of the Czech Hemp Association.

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