Hemp in the Channel Islands
This week, Jersey has seen the 29th meeting of the British-Irish Council; where representatives from the UK, Northern Irish, Scottish, Welsh and Irish governments, alongside politicians from the three Crown Dependencies - Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man - gathered for a dialogue on economic and political opportunities throughout and between our great nation.
Naturally, the discussion was dominated by Brexit. Of particular interest, however, are the efforts being made to bring hemp production and consumption into the mainstream in Jersey - evidence of which could be found in the goodie-bags given to Nicola Sturgeon (Soctland's first minister) and others, where a bottle of Jersey grown hemp cooking oil had found it's way in.
This was the result of Health Minister Andrew Green granting a licence to the Industrial Hemp Partnership, a Jersey-based firm intent on growing the crop for use in cooking oils and fibrous products, of which, as we well know, there are many!
The decision to grant the licence is reportedly part of a plan to diversify the current agricultural industry in Jersey, and to contribute to agricultural sustainability in the region. Revered for its potatoes and dairy products (think gold-top milk), Jersey also grows cauliflower and tomatoes, mainly for export to the rest of the United Kingdom. The dilemma is that these crops make for an agricultural system that has been damaging the productivity of the land for some time. Hemp, it is recognised, is one of few crops that complements the existing potato and dairy industries perfectly as, by it's deep root structure, it has a restorative effect on the nutritional composition of the soil. Hooray for hemp!
This is particularly newsworthy as Jersey's economic history is entwined with cannabis sativa; the plant we know as hemp. In fact, Jersey was the 4th largest ship building area in the 19th century, which would have involved large quantities of hemp rope, hemp sails and hemp garments for sailors. This is due to hemp being resistant to the damaging capabilities of salt and because hemp fabric does not rot - at least not as quickly - as other fabrics do. Learn more about the use of hemp in shipping here. Indeed, during the 17th and 18th centuries, Jersey also built a reputation for knitted woollen garments for clothing - another industry where hemp has had historical importance. Learn more about hemp clothing here.
It is great to see pragmatic, forward-thinking policies being actioned across the UK and this step towards a more sustainable and environmentally, as well as economically, concious system of agriculture is much welcomed. Let's hope that all UK governments, devolved and otherwise, can follow this example from one of the Crown Dependencies, and offer hemp the opportunity to benefit us all.
Sources & Citations
Jersey Evening Post (online) - Read more at https://jerseyeveningpost.com/news/2017/05/13/hemp-could-boost-jerseys-farming-industry/#0j0u8iWEqt8AciZe.99
Jersey Evening Post (online) - Read more at https://jerseyeveningpost.com/news/2017/11/10/senior-politicians-fly-in-for-british-irish-council-meeting/#eUyhRwvwWo6uJfVt.99