The Himalayan OG from the Place of Origin
Nepal, the Himalayan country is the home to a rich biodiversity with varieties of flora and fauna where some are only to be found here. The lands in the rural communities are still pristine and untouched. We can find over 121 types of different phenotypes of strains of hemp and cannabis here, where mostly we find sativa landraces that also include indica and rudrelis strains.
Back in the day, before 1976, cannabis was fully legal in Nepal. This was the utopia we dreamt of until the Narcotic Drugs Control (Act) was introduced to criminalise the cultivation, sale and consumption of cannabis with the fear of leading the American youth astray.
US President Richard Nixon was worried about these ‘peaceniks’ supporting the anti-Vietnam War movement, and declared that marijuana was America’s “public enemy number one”. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger actually warned Nixon: “They come from Nepal to demonstrate against you because up there they can get free pot.”
However, the ban drove the cannabis trade underground and into the hands of the mafia, corrupting the police and politicians. Meanwhile, Nepal’s subsistence farmers lost an important cash crop — and this may have been a factor in sparking the Maoist revolution in the 1990s.
Looking at the picture of the world today, the regulations have moved far ahead allowing the industry to boom where the CAGR is projected to grow from USD 28.266 billin in 2021 to 197.74 billion in 2028 at growth of 32.04%. However, with the delay in the regulations, Nepal hasn’t been able to monetize as much. However, there is still a whole industry which is still alive, for its industrial uses mostly which is being led by some of the activists, Pratik Karki and Ganesh Aidi. Pratik Karki established ‘Canaveda’, ‘Udhyogi Group Public Limited’ and the ‘Hemp Association of Nepal’ to build the ecosystem that would be required to build a large scale industry. Here, over 13000 farmers are directly involved over 47 districts that are a part of value chain which is monitored by AI technology with track and trace. On the other side, Ganesh Aidi, gave birth to the hemp bag cottage industries that are over 170 today which employees over 8578 people adding a great value in the GDP of the country. He is also the founder of ‘Hemp Bazar Nepal’ which is a marketplace for all kinds of hemp products.
The journey for Pratik started when he was exploring ways to bring about sustainable development in the world. He saw that there needs to be a paradigm shift in the ways, we act. Hence, he realized that the ways how our needs were met, needs to be changed. So, he started researching to find best alternatives for food, clothes and shelter. After spending over 5 years in R&D, he gave birth to Canaveda which is a hemp and cannabis consultancy which has developed many IP’s for making Hemp based Yarns, fabrics, glassware, bioplastics, construction material, stationaries, paper, cosmetics and more. He says, ‘We can build a rocket out of it.’
For the first time in Nepal, industrial yarns out of hemp and nettle were manufactured which seemed impossible until a proprietary technology was developed to process the fibre which was a game changer. He also developed several new markets for different hemp products such as, ‘Roots Of Cana’ where all kinds of hemp products were to be found that supported over 70 women who were employed in the factory where you could find over 250 products out of hemp. Also, was established ‘Royal Rugs Nepal’ which started to develop hemp and nettle based rugs which was the first of its kind which was developed by a yarn that was developed by themselves.
This was a way into social entrepreneurship as 30% of the total profits were committed to build the vision of Awakening Dreams which is an NGO that wants to build a sustainable and holistic world as he realized to build the nation, just charity won’t help which led him to business. He constantly shares that he wants more income so he could be able to give. Still in the country, there isn’t enough development. The rural areas lack the accessibility to basic facilities, like road, education and health. Hence, someone had to walk through the hard way.
Working with farmers is very tough but building a model where they are fully involved in the structure to benefit from the beginning to the end is almost impossible and it has very seldom been done. However, with Udhyogi Group Public Limited, even the farmers get the shares of the end profit. This has boosted the morale of the farmers and is saving a dying industry as not a lot of profit used to be received by the locals in the grassroots which has changed as a fair trade price has been administered. Recently, 100% hemp and nettle yarns are also being developed which will be another game changer as the market isn’t the problem but quality and supply is.
In order to meet so, Canaveda has partnered with several groups in different countries around the world, in India, USA, Austalia, Poland, England, Kazakhsthan, South Africa and more. The goal is to build a larger supply chain which would be able to help large groups to bring about a transformation in their areas of work. With this, we have over 2.5 million hectares of land under our group which is also used for carbon accreditation where we would actually be able to build a sustainable and holistic from the roots to the end.
The journey we endeavour beckons hope to humanity as it is still possible for us to save ourselves as our current ways aren’t healthy to this planet and so, us. 250,000 tonnes of micro plastics are dumped into the ocean every year which is just from the textile industry. The life of cement construction is over 70 years where we haven’t yet thought, what is to be done after as at one point, just to get rid of construction waste is going to be a big problem. The uses of insecticides and pesticides are destroying our land, water and air. The use of commercial paper is destroying our forests. Hence, it is time for us to wake up and consume consciously.
Nepal has always been the spiritual hub where even the hippie movement started which helped the consciousness to rise, awakening many people in the world which gave us, Steve Jobs, The Beatles and more where Nepal is at the centre of this movement as it helped humanity to connect to its essence, just like the endo-cannabinoid system where according to the scriptures, Nepal is the core and centre of Earth where this effort of fight will help the world to find its way back to its roots which it has been looking for as it is lost.
Cannabis has been used for various religious purposes in our culture. One of the greatest gods, Shiva who is worshipped in the Hindu Myth and Religion is offered Cannabis as homage. He is the symbol of deep meditation through which he received his knowledge, wisdom, patience, tranquillity and equanimity which is also symbolized by the Cannabis plant in our culture. This magical plant has also been used in Ayurveda which is plant medicine where it is regarded as one of the most important plant for making medicines. Today, mostly the plant is given to the cattle’s as a medicine when they have a digestive problem which is practiced by our ancestors for many centuries. Many indigenous tribes also use it as a medium for shamanic rituals where in tantra, the science of energy manipulation, it is regarded as a key ingredient as it helps you to be grounded and allows you to resonate higher where your grounds are steady and firm which is also regarded as Shaivism, the path of Shiva.
However, even though with all these gifts we have been blessed with, many challenges are still there as the regulations are moving slowly which Pratik and his group are constantly lobbying with. There is also a lack of lab facilities so the Canaveda is working on collecting the data to prepare for the future where they are collecting different genetics and breeding it. Besides that, they have developed a track and trace technology in-house to help monitor and support the system better. There was also a lot of stigma that surrounded the masses which is being changed as the group is constantly working to bring awareness in public.
With the right will and determination, these guys have been able to make the impossible, possible and they believe that it is just the beginning.