This conference is the largest business event in Europe for the hemp and cannabis industry. It gathers together professionals from Europe and other continents, to assess the latest discoveries and advancements in hemp applications for fibres, seeds, oil and CBD. Such an event honors the recently-gained relevance of the hemp and cannabis industry, which has become business worth multiple billions of dollars all around the world. One of the main difference from the 2019 edition, which united a record number of 415 participants, is that this time the event was held online.
As it has been for previous years, the conference revolving around multiple panel discussions, which are a breath of fresh air for the industry, in a moment still affected by the first wave of the Covid-19 epidemic. Every time the world goes through an historically relevant phase of change, like it is happening now, it is of vital importance for industry leaders of all sectors to vitalize as much as possible the debate about the future of the field, the technology and the application of their work. And the hemp and cannabis industry make no difference in this regard. This year, the main topics touched in the panel discussions revolved around the issues of policy both in Europe and Northern America, agriculture and processing, scientific advancements, applications of hemp and on the future of CBD.
Of remarkable interest have been, for us, the speech given by Deep Nature Project’s Marina Friedl, focused on the crucial issue of accessing public funding for a hemp-related business project in Europe. Rafael Dulon from Hanf Farm, the largest hemp producer in Central Europe, tackled the issues of consistently meeting market demand, the licensing and logistic challenges this implies, especially now that the hemp-food industry is growing at such a fast pace. Another aspect we have found really interesting this year, with all the ongoing debate regarding climate change, is that the topic has been also tackled within the Conference. Steve Allin of the International Hemp Building Association gave an illuminating talk, in which he illustrated the beneficial potential that hemp has as a building material, and how the current climate crisis could definitely benefit from a larger-scale employment of hemp-based construction materials.
The second day of the Conference was more focused on CBD and investor-oriented debates, with plenty of talks focused on market impact analyses, the issue of possible THC traces in otherwise marketable products (and its impact on businesses), how the future of the CBD industry looks and how investors feel about THC or CBD products as a market venture.
Another traditional aspect of the EIHA Conference is the annual Hemp Innovation Awards. Each year, the Conference nominates six innovators in the hemp and cannabis industry, gathering nominees which focus on end-user products as well as industrial or agricultural equipment.
This year, Germans were the stars of the awards. Lower Saxony entrepreneur Heinrich Wieker brought home the first prize with his Henry’s Hempharvester, an industrial hemp harvesting machine developed over four years. The revolution brought by this machine is time-efficiency and comfort. It harvests flowers and stems in one pass, and runs on a patented stripping mechanism, which allows to separate flowers and stems in a very neat fashion, leaving stems directly in the field and collecting flowers in a bag or a container. Its acreage capacity allows it to harvest up to 12 acres per day and, being a modular system, users can expand it with five more units, running at the same time, for a total daily harvesting capacity or 80 acres.
The second prize went to German-Moroccan Monika Brümmer from the cooperative Adrar Nouh, who presented this year her Sunimplant, a revolutionary hempcrete eco-building she constructed in Morocco, powered by solar panels for total electrical self-sufficiency.
Third place went to another German company, Sächsisches Textilforschungsinstitut e.V. creators of Lyohemp knitwear, produced from an innovative man-made cellulose fiber, obtained by dissolving pulp derived from organic hemp.