By William Hobbs, The Christchurch Press Company Limited
Canterbury, New Zealand — Industrial hemp could be a useful crop for former Motueka Valley tobacco land now being used only as low-value pasture, a proponent of legalising the crop believes.
People seeking approval for trials of industrial hemp will hold a meeting in Motueka tonight, where they hope to hear from Customs Minister Phillida Bunkle what the Government plans to do about applications to grow the cannabis-related plant.
Horticultural consultant Peter Smale said more than 2000ha was once used for growing tobacco and while high-value land near Motueka itself had been redeveloped for pipfruit or kiwifruit, other tobacco land in places like Dovedale and Tapawera was now used only for pasture.
He said hemp could be a useful crop to bring this horticultural land back into higher-value production.
Mr Smale has prepared a report for the Nelson City and Tasman District councils on the possibility of developing a “crops for Nelson” project along the lines of a similar scheme operating successfully in Southland.
His report said that in four years the scheme had undertaken 37 projects and claimed a 20 per cent increase in Southland’s horticultural activity.
The purpose for Nelson, with its already high level of horticultural activity, would be to identify further opportunities to stimulate horticultural and agricultural development and to set up management teams, which could co-ordinate the research and infrastructural development needed for specific projects.
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