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FSSAI Approval For Hemp Seed, Oil As Food Source Stirs Debate In Odisha

The hemp seed and its products can only be sold as food or used as an ingredient in a food for sale subject to conforming to the standards laid out by the food regulator.

Mrunal Manmay Dash
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Hemp FarmingPhotoPhoto: OTV

Hemp Farming

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Doors for Debates were thrown open in Odisha after the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) approved hemp seeds and hemp seed oil to be used as food sources in India.

The FSSAI issued a notification on November 15, 2021 stating, “The hemp seed, hemp seed oil and hemp seed flour shall be sold as food or used as an ingredient in a food for sale, subject to conforming standards.”

The hemp seed and its products can only be sold as food or used as an ingredient in a food for sale subject to conforming to the standards laid out by the food regulator.

Hemp or Cannabis or Ganja is widely cultivated in the southern parts of Odisha illegally. It is a major source of income for the tribals who sell the leaves to ganja smugglers and middlemen for a paltry sum of money who on the other hand sell them as a narcotic substance to end users at a premium cost earning handsome returns.

As per reports, the Odisha government destroys hundreds of hectares of illegal ganja cultivation every year in districts like Gajapati, Rayagada, Koraput and Malkangiri with the help of the Excise department and the Police, because the Maoists or Naxals sell it to fund their activities of violence against the establishment. 

While some in Odisha have long been advocating in support of cannabis farming, some on the other hand are dead against it.

Former Member of Lok Sabha and senior BJD leader Tathagat Satapathy is one of the many who has been supporting hemp farming for the larger benefit of the small and marginal farmers. 

Speaking to OTV, Satapathy said, “I am really sorry to say that Odisha government still has not understood the benefits of it. It would have been a great boon for the small farmers and would have brought a revolution in farming. I hope the government legalises its farming without further delay.”

On the other hand, Dr Pradeep Mohapatra, Director of State Food Safety Commission said, “There are two variants of hemp plants; one is non toxic and the other one is not advisable to be used as food. In Odisha it is rare to find hemp plants that can be used as food source.”

Similarly, former Excise Commissioner Sudarshan Nayak said, “The prospect of hemp farming and commercialisation of it is non-viable. The farmers have to cultivate thousands of hectares of cannabis in order to make substantial profits out of it, which is impractical.”

A drug of herbal origin, hemp is being extensively used by Ayurvedic physicians to treat various diseases and lifestyle disorders, as it shows great results if administered correctly. As a branch of medicine, Ayurveda recognises the use of cannabis leaves in the manufacturing of Ayurvedic medicines.

Speaking about its medicinal properties, Sasmita Das, an Ayush Doctor said, “Doctors have been prescribing cannabis derived drugs for quite some time. They are useful in relieving pain.”

With the entry of Hemp seeds in FSSAI, more and more companies will enter the hemp space, adding to the ever-growing global hemp industry. In the coming years, many food products containing hemp seeds and hemp seed oil will enter the space and increase the availability across the food industry, giving consumers various choices of healthy foods. Believing the industry forecasts, the Hemp industry worldwide is moving towards a groundbreaking graph of potential in the next five years.

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