Nepal has a long history with hemp. It has been used for generations as a fibre because of its strength, resilient and durability. Although hemp has a long tradition and additionally could provide employment opportunities for disadvantaged and poor nepali people, its industrial cultivation is still illegal. Thats the reason why people only use those plants that grow wild and naturally in rural and mountainous areas.
The slow, complex and exhausting process for hemp fiber extraction, is completely done by hand in the western villages of Nepal. All the steps of making hemp cloth, from sowing seeds, through the many stages of fiber processing, to spinning and weaving the yarn, are still performed mainly by women.
Grown naturally without pesticides, fungicides or chemical fertilizers nepali hemp is harvested in autumn after a growth period of approximately 120 days, then left out to dry. After it is soaked in water for several weeks the bark is separated from the stem. The plant’s fibrous portion is teased out, twisted, sun dried, beaten with a wooden stick (to soften it) and finally spun. After spinning, the thread is boiled with water and wood ash and rinsed many times.
For the 3-4m long handwoven hemp fabrics, the villagers receive around 5 dollars. This is an important source of income in addition to agriculture. It helps people to pay school fees for their children or buying medicine. (Most Nepalese live at around $ 2 a day and have an average annual income of less than $ 200).
Nepal, a nation with many unemployed people, especially in rural areas where no practical source of income exists, hemp is hope. It is an important source of income for villagers and their families, who have no options for work in or around their villages. We hope that the Nepali government will soon accept industrial hemp cultivation to support their country and its villagers. Hemp is one of the most sustainable, versatile and eco friendly plant in this world and we hope the future will be bright for Nepal and their hearty people.