Alta. college launches hemp program

Edmonton’s NorQuest College has launched an online program for people looking to farm hemp.

The Hemp Farmer course became available in January and is designed to show people how to maximize revenue.

Classes will feature research on the crop’s growing season, and current farmers will offer advice via video.

“It will delve into everything from the differences of growing hemp as compared to more traditional crops, to impacts of climate and weather, seeding, harvesting, handling, and storage,” Marian Gayed, vice-president of business development at the college, said in a news release.

NorQuest said in the release that hemp is back in favour after Canada legalized recreational cannabis in fall 2018.

Canadian hemp growers with a permit are now allowed to sell leaves, buds and flowers from hemp plants. As well, the recent passage of the U.S. farm bill, which legalizes hemp, could allow producers to reach more consumers in that country.

“The interest in this was identified and developed from a 50-stakeholder engagement project conducted by NorQuest last summer,” Gayed said.

Along with the Hemp Farmer course, NorQuest will offer a separate course on processing and products.

The course will provide an overview of the industry and its regulations, and offer tips on how to start a hemp-based business. It is expected to launch next month.

“Hemp is an entrepreneurial medium,” Andrea Eriksson, the college’s business development officer, said in the release.

“Our Hemp Processing and Products course is video-based and will give participants first-hand exposure to how to process fibre, food, cannabinols, and hurd. The course will showcase products that can be manufactured.”

Most hemp production in Canada comes from the Prairies. The Alberta government anticipates it will reach a market value of $1 billion by 2023. In 2016, the Canadian hemp industry was valued at $340 million.

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