Hemp – an eco friendly ‘super-plant’ often misconceived as being just an intoxicant, has been ignored all this while for its super qualities. A quick internet search would reveal its super properties and that it can be used to make almost everything and anything, including but not limited to fabric, paper, oil, fuel, rope, homes, personal care products, biodegradable plastics, and so on.
The first time you are introduced to BOHECO, or The Bombay Hemp Company, it’s hard to not smile to yourself and get excited by just the mention of the word hemp. It is interesting how a product as non-existent as hemp, something which has no brand whatsoever — besides being a source of recreation for youngsters — can be used as a fashion garment, protein supplement, or for home materials
In the summer of 2010, Jahan, the co-founder of BOHECO, was on a trip to Australia when he came across the wide hemp industry in a small town called Margaret River, where everything from shirts to surfboards were all made from hemp. That was his intervention with hemp, which he shared with the team upon his arrival back in Mumbai.
BOHECO’s aim with the plant was simple: the founders wanted to introduce a new tool for development, a tool with over 25,000 proven uses, a tool that grows in 90-100 days and grows up to 12-15 feet, and a tool that is farmer friendly and has the potential to generate an unmatched economic value. A carbon-negative raw material, hemp requires less water, land, pesticides and herbicides to grow and process than cotton does.
BOHECO wants to adopt a new model of agriculture inspired by the tech industry called ‘open source agriculture,’ where the company provides seeds to the farmers to grow, empowers them with key skills to convert it into an end product, and buys back all their produce to supply it to the ever-growing market. Hemp is a self-sustainable crop which reduces the dependency of local farmers when it comes to food, clothing and shelter.
The company’s range of products include hemp seeds, oil, protein supplements, clothing, and shelter – also known as ‘hempcrete’ and medicine. The products in the food and clothing categories are out in the market for sale, whereas the medicine & shelter products are under product development and will be available in the near future.
The team intends to bring natural fibres other than cotton, like jute, himalayan nettle, coir, pineapple, banana, and more into the market, and has teamed up with the National Institute of Design (NID) for research on other allied fibres. Looking at the overwhelming support from the government, researchers, scientists, farmers and customers, the team is positive about the rising demand for eco-friendly products in the country.