Industrial hemp: the new fibre alternative?

Industrial hemp has been suggested as a fibre alternative to alleviate the impact of cotton production on the environment, especially in Northern Nigeria which is quite vulnerable to climate change. However, despite its desirable features, persuading farmers to substitute industrial hemp on acreage traditionally allotted to crops like cotton has not been easy for reasons due to the lack of enterprise budget data, traditional beliefs, government policies, etc.

LINKS conducted a market study of Industrial hemp to assess its viability as a sustainable, economically-rewarding alternative to cotton for Nigeria. Some of our findings include:

There is an undeniable opportunity for industrial hemp to become a niche product and for the creation of a future value chain in Nigeria to be based on servicing such a niche market. The most viable niche markets for industrial hemp are currently the production of:

  • hemp oils to be used in cosmetics and personal care products,
  • hemp seeds for human consumption as a ‘super food’,
  • CBD oil for therapeutic use (likely the most lucrative in the short-term)

However, the future of the industrial hemp market and its potential for growth are not quite straightforward. Some of the probable constraints to the value chain include:

  • Inadequate Processing Capacity and Technology
  • Absence of up-to-date data for Decision-Making
  • Poor Quality Seeds and Cultivars
  • Shortage of Processing Capacity.
  • Paucity of Investment in Research & Development

The last point regarding Research & Development might be the key to further unearthing the potential of industrial hemp. If more hemp is made available for scientific study, and cultivation and production costs decrease as a result of improved technological and research efforts, the profitability of the crop may increase, and the range of products and uses for industrial hemp would in all likelihood expand.

View the full report here

COVID- 19 Response

Project implementation in these unprecedented times is challenging for all of us in Nigeria, but it presents new opportunities as well. As part of LINKS response to the COVID-19 outbreak and lockdown, we have taken a number of initiatives