Kansa (Cannabis) farming and its benefits



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by Wasantha Sena Weliange


(PhD – Natural Sciences Austria; MPhil – Zoology Sri Lanka; BSc – Zoology Sri Lanka; Diploma – Archaeology Sri Lanka)


wasantha.weliange@yahoo.com


Although growing Kansa is illegal in Sri Lanka about 40 other countries are now growing Kansa as a multipurpose crop.


Kansa plant


Botanically, the Kansa plant belongs to genus Cannabis and family Cannabaceae. Within this family there are three main species:


Cannabis indica


Cannabis sativa


Cannabis ruderalia


Kansa is an annual plant that matures and completes its life cycle within three months to form a woody stem. Its height varies from one to six meters. It has a long central stem that lacks any branches or foliage except at the top, forming a canopy. The seeds are smooth, round, and typically brown or grey with a typical diameter between two and four millimetres. It is an adaptable plant capable of living in a wide range of environments.


For nearly 12,000 years, humans have used parts of the Kansa plant for building material, clothing, food, medicines, paper, ropes, soap, textiles, fuel oil, cosmetic, means of recreation and for spiritual well being. Raw materials from Kansa can be used to produce over 50,000 products.


Today, modern processing technologies have made it possible to create alternatives to gasoline, plastic, and other petroleum products, which can help the human race lessen its reliance on polluting and expensive fossil fuels.


In the mid 1930’s synthetic materials like nylon, rayon, cellophane, plastics and synthetic pharmaceuticals were invented. At the same time wood pulp was used in paper making industry.


Due to the invention of synthetic drugs like Heroin, Cocaine and LSD, drug addiction boomed in USA and Europe and later spread throughout the world. To control these addictions, such substances were categorized as Dangerous Drugs.


To introduce synthetic products and paper made from wood pulp, elimination of the Kansa plant was required. The prohibition of Kansa began in USA, and spread globally with political pressure from the USA to the United Nations. Since 1961 use and planting of Kansa was prohibited by the United Nations. Sri Lanka also had to heed UN regulations. Somehow by early 1990s governments around the world realized that Kansa is not a threat and started planting again.


Kansa is a crop that can contribute significantly to reduce global atmospheric Carbon Dioxide. Kansa plant has been scientifically proven to absorb more CO2 per hectare than any forest or commercial crop and is therefore the ideal carbon sink. In addition, the CO2 is permanently bonded within the fibre that is used for anything from textiles, to paper and as a building material.


According to the present classification, based on industrial uses, there are three main varieties of Kansa:


= Industrial Kansa (< 0.05 percent Psychoactive Tetrahydrocannabinol)


=Medicinal Kansa (higher levels of clinically important Cannabidiol)


=Recreational Kansa (> 0.05 percent Psychoactive Tetrahydrocannabinol)


Tetrahydrocannabinol is the intoxicant.


 


Uses of Kansa plant


Paper industry


Paper was invented in China made using Kansa-pulp in about 100 BC. In 1150 AD, Islamic rulers created the first paper mill in Spain. Since then till 1940s paper was made of Kansa pulp. By 1883 up to 90 percent of the worlds' paper and cardboard was made from Kansa-pulp. Kansa-pulp paper can simply be whitened with hydrogen peroxide, which is much safer for the Earth. Since 1940 paper was manufactured using trees cut from the forests. At present 93 percent of paper and cardboard comes from wood-pulp. Wood-pulp paper production releases 220 million pounds of toxic pollutants, including dioxin, into the water and air.


The Kansa plant produces four times the raw material for paper-making than trees. By farming Kansa deforestation can be reduced up to 50 percent and reduce the need for chemicals used in paper and cardboard manufacture. Kansa-pulp paper can be recycled up to eight times while the wood-pulp paper can only be recycled three times.


Clothing industry


The oldest known woven fabric was made of Kansa fibres some 10,000 years ago. The Kansa plant has one of the most durable, strong and light fibres on Earth. Kansa fabrics are anti-mildew, anti-UV and have thermodynamic, hypo-allergenic properties, making it desirable for use in many products. Kansa fibres are hollow therefore cloth made from them insulates the body.


Kansa fibres 'wears in', becomes softer without getting damaged. It is fire-retardant to a greater extent; it doesn’t require soaking in fire repellent chemicals as is usually done for cotton used for beddings and so on. Kansa was a common material in the garment manufacture until the cotton industry gained strength in America around 1940s. Kansa clothes are better because it grows without pesticides and herbicides.


Bio-fuel industry


For centuries, Kansa oil was used as lamp oil. Phasing out began in USA and UK in the 1870s when petroleum was introduced. Kansa can be used as fuel in a cleaner and safer manner. Kansa biodiesel is 100 percent biodegradable. Bio-diesel is 11 percent oxygen by weight and contains no Sulphur, so instead of creating Sulphur-based smog and acid rain as by-products, it produces 11 percent oxygen instead.


Food industry


People have been eating Kansa seeds as a wholesome food for 12,000 years. Kansa seeds are one of the most nutrition rich in the plant kingdom. It has beneficial proteins, good fatty acids like Omega 3 and 6, vitamins, minerals and edible fibres, etc. It is highly digestible. Kansa seeds are good for feeding animal in aquaculture and poultry.


Medicine industry


Chemicals in cannabis can be used in medicines and are estimated to treat around 250 diseases and illnesses such as cancer, tumours, nausea, chronic pain, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, asthma, insomnia, pain during childbirth, migraines, glaucoma, anorexia in patients with Alzheimer's, mental health issues, hemorrhoids, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression, etc. Kansa is used to treat alcohol and drug addiction too. Kansa improves the immunity system. Sativex, Epidiolex and Marinol are some of the drugs produced by the big pharmaceutical companies based on the chemical makeup of Cannabis.


Building materials


Kansa wood chips (Hurds) can replace sand in cement and concrete mixtures. These Kansa based concrete is called as Hempcrete. Hempcrete can be used for cement blocks, foundations, walls, shingles, panelling, beams, studs, stucco and pipes. Kansa fibres can be converted to fibre-board and insulation. Kansa based building materials are fireproof, waterproof, rot free, pest free, mould free, lightweight, self-insulating and stronger, more durable and flexible than building material currently. Kansa fibres can be used to make our future roads, highways and freeways in the form of Kansa based concrete. Kansa fibres and hurd are strong enough to replace metal, glass, plastic and synthetic fibers in many instances. It scores higher than many of these in various tensile, tear and pressure tests. Kansa seeds can be used to make paint, varnish and ink.


Cosmetic industry


Kansa oils and natural emollient properties make it a common ingredient in lotions and many other skin, hair, and cosmetic products. It is a good alternative to the toxic chemicals present in many petroleum based lotions and cosmetics.


Plastic alternatives


Kansa fibres are lighter and stronger than steel and fibre-glass, able to absorb impact better and strong enough to make aircraft and car bodies. Kansa plastic is 100 percent biodegradable. When discarded it immediately begins to turn into soil and compost. There are even flame-retardant versions of Kansa plastic. Using Kansa plastic not only eliminates plastic trash, it also eliminates the need for oil in plastic manufacture.


An environmentally-friendly crop


Kansa plants grow very fast (four meters in 100 days) without any chemicals to harvestable size in three to four months. Kansa plant resists most pests, hence does not need agrochemicals like pesticides, herbicides or fungicides. Kansa is also an excellent rotation crop and can be grown with other legume crops. Kansa plants suppress weeds, loosen the soil, control erosion of the topsoil and produce oxygen, making it ideal to grow with other crops.


The long tap roots of Cannabis plant bind and aerate the soil. The Kansa plant can be used to reclaim land in areas prone to drought or flooding. One hectare of Kansa can absorb 22 tones of CO2 per hectare. Kansa’s rapid growth makes it one of the fastest CO2-to-biomass conversion tools available, more efficient than agro-forestry. Kansa stem consists primarily of Cellulose, Hemicelluloses and Lignin, whose chemical structures contain carbon.


Most sustainable crop


Kansa is one of the most sustainable crops according to The World Commission on Environment and Development. Sustainability is defined by as "the ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." It also runs parallel with the 'Green Future' objectives that are becoming increasingly popular.


Kansa can be grown large scale throughout Sri Lanka, even on nutrient poor soils, with very small amounts of water and without fertilizers. Kansa can be grown on existing agricultural lands therefore comply with the Sri Lankan Government’s plans to increase employment and improve the economic position of remote areas. Kansa farming may create more jobs, clean our air, distribute wealth to communities that need it and may help earn billions of dollars worth of foreign revenue.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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