China is focusing on hemp cultivation. A research program involving partners from the Ukraine and Canada aims at developing new, high-yield hemp varieties for stalks and seeds and introducing biotechnological procedures which allow for the production of fine hemp fibers using enzymes.
This procedure is referred to as the enzymatic cottonisation of hemp fibers, which may then be processed alone or blended with other fibers. Hemp cultivation is considered more environmentally friendly than growing cotton, as it thrives in moderate climates, and doesn’t need artificial irrigation. Hemp is said to be ideally suited for crop rotation schemes and delivers around twice the fiber yield.
China feels hemp can be a strategic resource. The country is attracting partners from Europe and North America for the production and marketing of organic hemp foods and offering them solid infrastructure and investment subsidies. Hemp fibers have benefits including good moisture absorption characteristics, antibacterial effects. They provide good UV protection and allow textiles to dry fast.
Earlier this month, a conference on hemp was held in China. The show showcased very fine hemp fabrics including suits, jackets, dresses, trousers, underwear, socks and towels. Hemp viscose fibers were also presented – mixed with cotton they are used in wet and cosmetic wipes.