The following text is an outline of an application submitted to the European Social Innovation Challenge.
Polish agriculture is specialized on a few products, like corn, canola, wheat and potato. Except potato, these cannot be processed or used in their local area, which makes Polish agriculture vulnerable to national and global market fluctuations.
While in past times, it produced a range of advanced processed products for various markets.
Industrial hemp is a valuable addition in this context, because it is easily processed at the local level and with low-tech machinery (yielding building materials, food grain, oil, fibers, biomass fuel). This lends it a strong potential for job creation and re-development in rural communities. Moreover, hemp necessitates less pesticides and herbicides than other crops.
FreeLab Poland, http://freelab.org.pl
The Institute of Natural Fibres and Medicinal Plants (IWNiRZ), Poland, http://iwnirz.pl/strona,248.html
Włokniści.PL. A 15-person Local Action Group from the Subcarpathian Region. It has registered for hemp reintroduction and will start to do so on 15 ha of pooled land in March 2013. It will also become the first Polish hemp association.
The innovation of this project is to simplify industrial hemp growing for businesses as much as possible while conforming to all applicable legislation. This is done by organizing hemp businesses into associations and further into a union of associations as parent organization. The union will do the licensing for seed growing, and will receive seeds from associated businesses and distribute them to these according to applicable laws.
Additionally, the tested and tried set of recommendations for legal and financial management of hemp businesses is also innovative, because it does not yet exist. It further simplifies business and job creation in the hemp industry.
This project, as a model structure, will operate in the Subcarpathian region of Poland where the first cluster of industrial hemp social enterprises will be created. The parent organization of these will operate on a national scale in Poland, so that the model cluster of hemp businesses can grow into a national network by itself, even independent of this this project.
Successful growth of this network will provide a treasure of experiences how a similar network can be implemented in other EU member states. These experiences and all project documentation will be provided as open content on the Internet, so that
project replication and adaptation by independent actors is possible. But while all EU member states have similar rules governing the cultivation of industrial hemp (stemming from EU legislation), it remains to be determined if the “association of association” idea presented here is applicable as a solution to the legal barriers in these other EU member states. If not, a different proven social enterprise structure can be chosen, while reusing the general organizational framework as developed in this project.