Hemp crop could be worth $3 million to SA farmers, Member for Hammond Adrian Pederick says

Legal ... sort of. Photo: File.
Legal ... sort of. Photo: File.

South Australia's new industrial hemp industry could be worth $3 million per year to growers within five years, says Member for Hammond Adrian Pederick.

Irrigated areas along the River Murray and Mallee properties with access to groundwater could be among the regions to benefit.

In Parliament last week, Mr Pederick noted some people's concerns around regulation and perceptions of the crop, but said it ultimately had a lot of potential to help farmers.

"It will be very strictly controlled, which I fully understand, but I think it gives South Australian farmers who have the opportunity to grow this spring or summer crop another option for profitability and will help augment the great agriculture sector that we have in this state," he said in Parliament last week.

"It is certainly something that will benefit ... the whole economy.

"If farmers are making money, they spend the money.

"There will be some headaches and there will be some failures, but if you do not have a go you will not know.

"To people who are proposing to get into industrial hemp growing and supply, I say: go into it with open eyes, but I wish you all the luck into the future."

Under regulations which became law in November, hemp growers will have to prove they are fit to hold a license, prepared to grow a minimum of one hectare of the crop and willing to ensure the quantity of psychoactive THC in their plants does not exceed 0.5 per cent.

Growers whose plants exceed 1pc THC could be charged for criminal cultivation.

MPs unanimously passed a symbolic motion congratulating the SA Research and Development Institute (SARDI) for its work on trial crops in the Riverland and South East.

SARDI has been researching when to sow the crop, how long to grow it, how much water it needed, and which strains and soil types were best.

Hemp is grown as a legal crop in more than 30 countries, including France, China and South Korea; and has been grown elsewhere in Australia for more than 20 years.