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JKI and Uruguay intensify their cooperation in fibre hemp

Both sides met from 22 to 24 November to prepare a joint project.


From 22 to 24 November 2023, German and Uruguayan representatives met for exploratory talks to prepare a joint project on fibre hemp (Cannabis sativa). Both countries want to promote and expand the production, processing and use of hemp grown as fibre crop. To intensify their coopration in this field, representatives of the German Agricultural Ministry (BMEL), the German embassy and the Julius Kühn Institute (JKI) travelled to Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, to discuss and agree upon concrete work packages of both countries.

Following initial talks at the Uruguayan Ministry of Agriculture (MGAP) and further discussions with national production and processing companies and the Uruguayan seed chamber, both sides adopted a joint protocol at the final workshop. While the MGAP itself is to carry out the project on the Uruguayan side, the JKI Institute for Breeding Research in Horticultural Crops is responsible for realizing the planned research work on the German side.

Bioeconomy with fibre hemp - an old crop with new significance

For centuries, fibre hemp used to be an important crop in Germany. Due to the length and tensile strenght of its fibres, fibre hemp is a suitable raw material for the production of ropes, nonwoven fabrics, paper and textiles as well as for the production of leather substitutes, bioplastics, composites, and insulating materials.

Due to the competing chemical, oil and wood industry products, but also due to the ban on the cultivation of fibre hemp in the years 1982-1996, a lot of expertise, knowledge and above all innovative strength in fibre hemp cultivation and its processing was lost. As a result, the crop is currently only cultivated to a very limited extent in Germany and Uruguay. However, both countries are looking for bio-based alternatives for a range of products that are currently manufactured using fossil resources.

Developing a range of fibre hemp products and evaluating cultivation and processing options

On the basis of existing knowledge, a fibre hemp assortment shall be developed, the characteristics of the various genotypes and varieties described and modern cultivation and processing techniques tested. In addition, the extent to which fibre hemp is suitable as an agricultural crop for organic cultivation will be considered. Fibre hemp is an undemanding and robust crop. It  grows rapidly, which helps to suppress the growth of weeds. It is also known for soil-improving properties due to its deep roots. Phytopathological problems are very rare.


The exploratory talks took place as part of the German-Uruguayan Bioeconomy Cooperation and the German-Uruguayan Bilateral Cooperation Programme, both funded by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL). The agriculture ministries of both countries wish to conduct joint research into fibre hemp with a view to current technical and breeding possibilities.

Uruguay, which was the first country in the world to legalise the cultivation, sale and consumption of Cannabis/marijuana as a recreational drug under state supervision in 2013, has acquired considerable expertise in the production, processing and quality assessment of fibre hemp as well. This makes the country an ideal partner for the BMEL and JKI in the modernisation and expansion of fibre hemp production.

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