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Hemp and its relevance to India

Notes by Narsi

The textile industry is responsible for about 2.5 billion tons of CO2 emissions every year, and of this, cotton cultivation will be a significant contributor.

Cotton is a water and input intensive crop. The textile industry has been trying to make cotton cultivation more sustainable and low carbon for a while now, but there's only so low you can go. 

The other option will be to look for alternative fibers - and hemp stands right on top.

Hemp has a short, summer crop cycle and uses just about half the amount of water that cotton does, makes for a sustainable crop.

Globally, the interest in using hemp as a cotton replacement has been growing significantly, with some of the major firms such as Levis already incorporating hemp in blnded form with cotton.

India is the world's largest cotton cultivating country, and I think it is only logical that we should think about hemp. 

But hemp's use goes far beyond textiles.

Every part of the plant can be used, for food (nutrient-dense seeds and oils), medicinal use, fibre, paper, fuel, construction (hempcrete), animal food, bedding, even as a biodegradable alternative to plastic

But hemp cultivation had not been allowed recently mainly because of its connection to "high"!

Recently however, the Indian government has started allowing industrial hemp cultivation with states such as Uttarakhand taking the lead. The market currently is insignificant and it could be a while before the Indian market size for hemp touches even $100 million - not something that's cheery news for startups.

But given its diverse use, entrepreneurs interested in the agri sector might wish to keep an eye on this crop,

See all Insights from: Decarbonizing Industries


  • Crop sciences