Workshop on Industrial Hemp

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January 18, 2023

The UNCTAD Commodities Branch has recently produced a report on industrial hemp that will provide the background material for a forum on the ecological properties and economic potential of this commodity. National experiences will also be shared on the development of an industrial hemp value chain.

Industrial hemp does not have intoxicating properties. Nonetheless, it remains a controversial plant, as it is often mistakenly associated with use as an intoxicant. The report discusses the general uses of industrial hemp, and how they are reflected in international production and trade statistics. Based on current experiences and empirical expertise, the report also defines the steps that could be taken by developing countries where climate and agronomic characteristics are favourable to cultivate the crop in order to exploit its economic and social potential. The report provides some information about production worldwide and trade of industrial hemp products. Overall, about 40 countries currently produce some significant quantities of industrial hemp. However, due to a narrow set of hemp products covered by international trade statistics, recorded trade flows do not fully reflect the true size of the global industrial hemp market. Indeed, despite an estimated overall value of about $5 billion in 2020, trade in such products, as reported in international trade datasets, amounted to a mere US42 million. Thus, a clear effort is urgently needed to include a more representative set of hemp-related products in international product classifications.

Information about prices of hemp products is also scarce. Currently available sources of information are scattered and are not easily comparable. However, some patterns emerge within the sector. Important price differences exist between raw, semi-processed hemp, hemp yarn and more sophisticated derivative products. To fully exploit the potential of industrial hemp, countries would need to take specific actions. For instance, a clarification of the legal status of hemp as distinct from intoxicant cannabis substances could be the first step taken by governments. A precise understanding of production constraints imposed by regulatory frameworks in destination markets would also be necessary to identify market potential. Regional cooperation to facilitate the establishment of production chains may also be a strategy for developing countries to consider.

Participation

This workshop is open to all member States of UNCTAD. Other organizations, including specialized agencies, intergovernmental bodies and non-governmental organizations in the general and special categories, as well as academia and the private sector, may participate as observers.

Experts will participate in the workshop in their personal capacities and are expected to have proven expertise in the subject matter. They may be selected from government ministries such as those dealing with trade, industry, agriculture, and may also be selected from the private sector, including representatives of producer associations or cooperatives, and non-governmental organizations.

Registration

Online registration is mandatory for all those wishing to attend the meeting and is required to be included in the list of participants.

Logistics

The session will be held with physical participation, in room XXI of the Palais des Nations, and remote participation, through a simultaneous interpretation platform in English and French.

A link to the formal virtual meeting will be sent to registered participants, at the email address used for registration, one day in advance of the start of the session.

More details here