Hemp: grow it, not burn it!

Danilo Crispim Massuela shares a compelling revelation about the potentials of Hemp as a socio-economic driver via his oral presentation at the #Tropentag2019.

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The legality of hemp production continues to be a subject of global contention, as it varies widely across different countries. Danilo’s oral presentation takes us on a mental journey to the Quilombola Communities of the Brazilian São Francisco Valley, where hemp production should not be considered an option but a matter of necessity. This region is the highest producer of Cannabis in the country but rural poverty, hunger, social inequalities and food insecurity are the realities on the ground. This community are literarily so rich, yet so poor.

The government seems to be using the wrong weapon to fight these realities, as all their infrastructural and land reform interventions seem not to be producing the expected result. The government has expended a lot of public resources to wage a war on cannabis production in this area, with no results to show forth; production seems to be on the increase, nonetheless. In the words of Danilo; “War on drugs has failed, it is costly to everyone”. Science should be about providing practical solutions to challenging problems, and this is exactly what this young scientist sets out to do. Using multiple qualitative approaches involving observatory participation, questionnaire and interviews, Danilo was able to earn the trust of the locals by immersing himself in their realities over time; a feature not common to most research, which often proposes solutions to a perceived problem and non-existing challenges.

His research expounds on the multifunctional characteristics of hemp, as hemp is useful as paper products, moulded plastics, textiles, body care products, medicines, nutritional supplements, animal feeds, etc. More importantly, it has great potential to yield alternative sources of income for this community and in the long run, could solve existing social challenges, including rural poverty and food insecurity. He submits that the right action for the government to take is to build a whole value chain around hemp production for this local community. This investment decision could be monitored to avoid misuse of hemp products, but it would yield a ripple effect of socio-economic benefits for the community. When quizzed about the motivation for this research, the young researcher had this to say- “to give a voice to this forgotten community”. We can only hope that this innovative research translates to policy milestones for the Quilombola Communities of Brazil. This is a clarion call to the Brazilian government to change their approach to solving this challenge; use seeds, not guns!


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