WA’s fledgling hemp industry celebrated a milestone last Wednesday with the founding of a growers’ co-operative.
The WA Hemp Growers’ Co-operative newly appointed executive officer Gail Stubber, guided by Peter Cooke of Agknowledge, was the driving force behind the project and supported by Farming Together’s Farm Co-operatives and Collaboration Pilot Program.
Ms Stubber said the objectives of the co-op were to collaborate and guide the direction of the new industry, attract funds and be a voice to help get the industry off the ground.
“As a new industry, we have a great opportunity to start off on the right foot and work together to ensure success,” she said.
“Hemp is unique in that there is a wealth of end uses and products for various parts of the plant.
“There is huge potential within WA for a multi-faceted hemp industry, and already we are seeing a good range of product innovation taking place.
“To nurture this innovation, we need to be able to secure our supply of WA grown hemp seed and fibre; that is where the co-op will be important.”
A board of directors for the co-op was also established at the meeting in Bunbury which saw Bronwyn Blake voted in as chair, Nicole Botica (vice chair), Mandy Walker (treasurer), David Hiscox, Richard Davy and independent director Brian Piesse.
All non-independent board members are active within the hemp community and collectively represent three distinct hemp growing regions in the South West, Great Southern and Mid-West.
Newly appointed chair and owner of Vasse Valley Dr Bronwyn Blake, said the first major task of the co-op will be to bring in carefully selected seed varieties from France and make this available to its members in time for the upcoming season.
“We want to make it as easy as possible for producers to grow this crop,” she said.
“To start off with, in addition to importing seed, we will set up a website with member access to a hemp agronomy package, and we will provide the service of hemp agronomist to members in time for the next season.”
The co-op welcomes all holders of a license to cultivate, harvest or process industrial hemp to contact firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss the benefits of becoming a member.