It can be difficult to imagine that hemp was at some point in history a staple crop for many countries around the world, mostly because of the current restrictions applied to it.
After decades of banning the plant, the world recognizes hemp, once again, as an environmentally efficient source for thousands of commercial products. With more than 25,000 applications in different products, hemp can replace many unsustainable sources that buyers use today.
While some countries still apply restrictions, overall world production has been gradually increasing in recent decades. Hemp is currently cultivated for commercial or research purposes in at least 47 countries, while some other indigenous peoples' lands grow it to create textile products.
Here are four countries around the world that are growing in the hemp industry.
By not banning industrial hemp as has happened in many other countries, China is now the world's leading hemp grower. It has been a part of their culture for thousands of years, currently producing approximately 44,000 metric tons each year. Besides, it is number two in hemp seed production, representing 38% of the world total.
China is also the planet's leader in producing and exporting hemp textiles, hemp paper, and other derived products.
The South-American country has some advantages that might propel it to the top of the hemp industry. Its tropical weather and vast lands make it the perfect scenario for low-cost greenhouse hemp cultivation year-round. Farmers can harvest up to three or four crops annually.
In Colombia, hemp and marijuana are observed under one sole category: cannabis. 2016 saw the country legalizing the plant for medicinal use. The legislation divides cannabis into psychoactive and non-psychoactive; this last one having a THC legal limit of 1%—higher than many other countries.
While hemp cultivation is prevalent throughout Europe, France is among the top producing countries. It started early, having harvested approximately 10,000 tons by 1994. France, which has grown hemp for centuries, is indisputably the number one country producing hemp seeds. The European country is responsible for making 59% of the world's whole hemp seed.
The variety of hemp that flourishes in France is the most suitable for producing grains and fibers. As a result, France is also a leading producer of hemp-based pulp and paper distributed throughout the European Union.
Last year, Lithuania grew 22,689 acres of industrial hemp, doubling countries like Germany, another regional leader. The small country has already become a little hemp power within the European Union. Its production could ramp up if local legislation changes to allow producers to create products using every part of the hemp plant.
Many other countries could be listed—as mentioned above, Germany is also a giant in the industry, and other South American countries, like Ecuador, are entering the hemp game. These facts only demonstrate that the hemp market won’t stop growing.