Economics and Competitiveness
The Economics Branch is most appreciative of the time and effort producers gave in providing timely and accurate information. Without producer participation, publication of this report would not have been possible.
Interest regarding industrial hemp continues to increase within Alberta’s agricultural sector. Not only does the crop grow well in the province, but the increased consumer interest in sustainability and renewable resources suggests that potential markets will emerge for the oil and fibre products derived from plants.
The following study provides a detailed overview of the entire industrial hemp value chain in Alberta. It includes a review of hemp seed and straw processing as well as an analysis of hemp processing systems around the globe.
Specific emphasis was placed on developing benchmarks for the cost of production at the farm level. This is a critical success factor for Alberta production. Efficient production systems are essential to the long term development of a successful industry. The monitoring of this efficiency requires and understanding of the key cost elements, which can be used as benchmarks for assessing progress.
While there appears to be a tremendous opportunity for industrial hemp production and processing in Alberta it is recognized that there have been a number of false starts over the years. Many of the difficulties with industry development stem from the fact that supply chain relationships are not yet fully developed and as a result the industry is unable to fully commit on a longer term basis. The key factor to remedy this situation is finding stable end markets, specifically for fibre based products.
On the positive side, there are significant efforts underway to further refine fibre processing technology. These efforts when combined with those targeting the development of markets for seed, fibre, and hurd will be of critical importance to the sector. If these activities help to either increase competitiveness by reducing cost of production and/or increase potential markets, the benefits to Alberta would be significant.
Opportunities can only be realized if advances in the processing and end market development can be combined with increased experience and knowledge of production systems and costs at the farm level. Continued commitment on the part of all stakeholder groups is essential to the success of this process. The following document outlines many of the critical success factors and provides additional context to discussions about future directions for this industry.
For a complete copy, please see above .pdf file.