In a move that could generate foreign exchange of $1 billion over the next three years, Pakistan has approved the industrial production of hemp. The country plans to establish operations for research, cultivation, production, and exports for medical and industrial purposes.
Prime Minister Imran Khan green-lit a summary of the legislation at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, paving the way for the legal cultivation of hemp for the first time in the country‘s history. Pakistan is suffering from a struggling economy which is acting as the impetus for the landmark decision, along with other non-traditional agriculture projects.
In a press conference, Minister Fawad Chaudry said the compound cannabidiol (CBD) found in hemp can be used for various medical purposes, including chronic pain and those suffering from the effects of cancer treatment.
Further, he stressed the importance of hemp as a cash crop in the textile industry. “Worldwide, this fiber is replacing cotton. Clothes, bags, and other textile products are being made using this plant’s fiber,” he said. “This is a $25 billion market and Pakistan can take a big share in this market.”
Chaudry added that cultivation will be under government control, and to produce the crops they will import a specific variety of seeds. The government is considering areas in the Potohar, Punjab region to grow the crops as it has a favorable climate for cultivation.