A $75,000 donation from Hemp Production Services (HPS), a Saskatchewan-based bulk hemp food supply company, will go a long way towards helping Canadian Foodgrains Bank in its work of ending global hunger.
“As a company, we have an interest in food and food security,” says Garry Meier, President of HPS. “Our team at HPS are all farming or have farmed, so we’re very interested in the world’s ability to supply food to its over seven billion residents.”
HPS works with industrial hemp, a crop that had been banned in North America for over 50 years and reintroduced to Canadian farmers in 1998. They see this as only the beginning of what they hope will result in hemp reclaiming its historical leading role in reducing global hunger.
“Although hemp may be confused with marijuana, it is as similar to marijuana as bread wheat is to durum wheat or as sweet corn from the garden is to field corn grown for livestock feed,” explains Meier.
Hemp is potentially a multiuse crop and can be used for both food and non-food purposes. Fibre from hemp stalks can be used to make things like rope, paper, textiles or even car parts and electronics, while the hemp seed is used to make a variety of food products and body care products.
According to Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, hemp is one of only two plants that contain both omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, which the body cannot produce naturally. Both are essential fatty acids that are necessary for human health, playing a crucial role in brain function and growth and development.
But having missed out on close to 50-60 years of experience farming the crop, Meier says that legalization did not mean all the challenges were over.
“When hemp first came to Canada, it was very difficult to harvest with our existing equipment,” he explains. “Between the height of the crop and the post- harvest management issues, it was a very challenging new crop to produce.”
After years of agronomic research and varietal development, HPS has developed several varieties of hemp suitable to Canadian farms and their existing equipment lineup to help grow and harvest the crop. The result was a significant increase in business, and now Meier says it is time for HPS to help by giving back with some of those proceeds.
“We have an appreciation for what the crop has done for our farms and our new company that we were developing here,” he says. “And we wanted to share our success with those who don’t have the same opportunities as we do.”
John Longhurst, Director of Resources and Public Engagement at the Foodgrains Bank, appreciates how HPS is willing to give back in a way that is meaningful for them as an agricultural company.
“Hemp Production Service’s generous donation shows how Canadian businesses can join the fight against global hunger and make a difference for millions of people,” he says, adding that the proceeds can also be used to help farmers in the developing world grow more and better food for their families.
And for Meier, this is just the beginning. He says he hopes that hemp’s role in ending global hunger can grow beyond cash donations.
“Hopefully, eventually we can help the rest of the world produce and benefit from hemp,” he says.
–Shaylyn McMahon, Summer Resource Assistant