Uruguay To Cultivate Hemp; First Country In South America


Photo: Lossenelin
Industrial hemp being harvested

​Uruguay has pulled into the lead in becoming the first country in South America to authorize the cultivation of industrial hemp, Paula Alvarado reports at Treehugger.com.

The Ministry of Cattle, Agriculture and Fishing has authorized “experimental” cultivation of hemp to take place in October 2010. If results are successful, Uruguay could grant permits to farmers to start growing, according to El Pais.
The location selected for hemp cultivation is a secret. The National Institute for Farming Technology will oversee the pilot project.

The goal is to learn the hemp productive capacities of Uruguay, and to learn how different varieties of the Cannabis sativa plant respond to Uruguayan soil.

Photo: Treehugger.com
Growing industrial hemp (left) and harvested stalks

​If the plan moves forward, farmers will only be able to grow hemp with special permits from the Ministry of Agriculture.
One of the companies behind the pilot project is The Latin America Hemp Trading, which aims to make Uruguay the first country in the region to enter the hemp industry.
As Alvarado reports at Treehugger, hemp is a great crop. The plant grows fast, needs few or no herbicides, and is incredible versatile. But the production of the cannabis plant is still banned in many countries because of its association with the psychoactive variety used as a drug.
Industrial hemp typically has less than 0.3 percent THC (a main psychoactive ingredient), while marijuana usually ranges from 5 to 25 percent.
None of the countries in South America, including Uruguay, have until now made the distinction between industrial hemp and marijuana, but that could change if this project goes well.
“Right now Argentina and Uruguay are major transgenic-soy producers, with heavy use of harmful herbicides and fertilizers,” Alvarado wrote. “If the hemp industry takes off and proves lucrative, could it provide some balance to soy production? Hopefully.”