Advances in hemp production have given the Clutha district the opportunity to grow a new cultivar of hemp seed, dubbed Aotearoa1.
Tawanui's Donald "Mac" McIntosh has developed a new hemp seed that is unique to New Zealand.
Clutha Agricultural Development Board projects manager Malcolm Deverson said the benefits of the seed to the Clutha region could be substantial, but only if the hemp industry evolved.
"The money you can get from each hectare can out perform that of other crop," Mr Deverson said.
However, Mr McIntosh thought people were still sceptical about the plant because there was confusion around it. Mr Deverson also manages the Catlins Hemp Group, which helps farmers get licences to grow the plant.
"It gives farmers another option of seed to grow," Mr Deverson said.
"It's about making choices for the land. The land may not be suitable for sheep or beef, but may be suitable for hemp." Mr McIntosh said the seed approval was a big deal for New Zealand because his farm was the first within the country that did not have to import seeds.
"We are totally in control of this stock, giving us a great chance to develop the industry," Mr McIntosh said.
"Other hemp growers in New Zealand have to go through all the dramas of importing hemp seeds and aren't in control." Growers can buy within New Zealand, but the seeds come from imported ones originally.
"I'm a hippie from way back," he said.
The battle to license the cultivar has gone on for two years, he said.
The bureaucracy of licensing has slowed the process as the Ministry of Health checks each hemp grower is legitimate.
- The Southland Times
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