Hemp joint venture New Zealand Natural Fibers (NZNF) has received funding of A$1.34 million (€845,000) from the Department of Primary Industries (MPI) for a five-year research and development project.
NZNF, a partnership between Hemp NZ and NZ Yarn, a subsidiary of Carrfields Primary Wool, will use the funds to expand its business in growing, processing and marketing hemp, said NZNF CEO Colin McKenzie.
The grant comes from the Ministry’s Sustainable Futures Food and Fiber (SFF) fund, part of the government’s efforts to advance sustainability in the country’s agricultural economy. The funding will allow NZNF to advance initiatives to develop a range of new products and establish a path to market, said Steve Penno, director of investment programs at MPI.
NZNF plans to manufacture products such as hemp blends for resilient flooring and hemp wool blended with merino fiber to produce yarn for outdoor sportswear. The company is also developing nonwoven products, including a hemp-based material that could replace single-use plastic food wrappers, and a hemp-based substitute for synthetic permeable geotextile fabrics, which are used to stabilize soil. in infrastructure works. NZNF said it is also studying hemp fiber to produce bio-composites, packaging and building materials.
“We plan to . . . expand our capacity to grow, process and market hemp to ‘go further, faster’ to take a global leadership position in the development of industrial and consumer products made from hemp fibers. hemp,” McKenzie said.
The government funding builds on a previous $202,000 SFF Futures grant that NZFF received in 2020 to develop sustainable technology and processes to produce fit-for-use hemp fiber from harvested stalks, without using any chemical products.
Penno said the NZNF should develop hemp initiatives in hemp plant genetics, on-farm production and agronomy as part of the five-year program.
Penno said the project aligns with “Fit for a Better World”, the New Zealand government’s broader food and fiber roadmap guiding the export-led recovery from COVID-19.