Hemp Cooperative Ireland (HCI) is a registered cooperative with the aim of creating an infrastructure for farmers and local businesses to develop the hemp industry in Ireland. The seeds of the cooperative were first planted in 2016 with a small group of farmers realising that hemp had the potential to be the heart of a rural renaissance.
As Kate Carmody, chairperson of HCI, explains: “We looked at hemp as a valuable rotational crop for farmers, as well as having the potential to address many of the challenges facing society in terms of climate change and other environmental and societal needs. With the commodification of agricultural products such as beef, farmers have been relegated to being ‘price takers’ rather than ‘price makers’. Hemp on the other hand, with its important role in the bioeconomy, clearly had the potential to change this scenario”.
Dedicated to the development of the Irish Hemp Industry
After an article about Kate Carmody’s hemp crop was published it became clear that many farmers were enthusiastic about the potential of this crop and this led directly to the decision to set up a cooperative to promote and ‘grow’ the potential of the crop through its multiple uses.
HCI was registered in May 2018 with seven founding members and in less than a year has over eighty members. The cooperative has researched the agronomic aspects of the crop, as well as the most appropriate processing facilities, plus it has recently set-up its first local hub so that farmers in the region can easily access the necessary equipment, advice and technical skills needed for growing and processing this exciting and innovative new crop. The cooperative has also submitted ideas to government policy consultations and actively engaged with legislative and academic bodies.