Western Australia’s fledgling hemp industry is celebrating a milestone with the founding of a growers’ co-operative.
Members of the hemp industry and government convened in Bunbury on 18 April for the formation meeting of the WA Hemp Growers’ Co-operative (WAHGC).
The meeting also touched on the co-op’s initial strategic plan of the and how it intends to benefit its members and the industry as a whole.
Newly appointed Executive Officer Gail Stubber, guided by Peter Cooke of Agknowledge, has been the driving force behind the project, which has been supported with funds and professional assistance through Farming Together’s Farm Co-operatives and Collaboration Pilot Program.
Mrs Stubber said that the overarching objectives of the co-op were to develop a sound communication and collaborative approach to help guide the direction of the new industry and to use the strength of formal collaboration to 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,” Mrs Stubber said.
“Hemp is unique in that there is a wealth of end uses/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.”
The meeting concluded with all present members voting in a Board of Directors.
The successful candidates were Bronwyn Blake (Chair), Nicole Botica (Vice Chair), Mandy Walker (Treasurer), David Hiscox and 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; 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,” said Dr Blake.
“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 [email protected] to discuss the benefits of becoming a member.