International Conference on Medicinal Importance of Hemp

Speakers underlined the need to give legal permission to cultivate hemp that can greatly help provide a sustainable alternative to many oil-based products ranging from building materials to clothing and medicine.

They expressed these views at an international seminar on 'Medicinal Importance of Hemp' held at Pir Mehr Ali Shah Arid Agriculture University Rawalpindi (PMAS-AAUR) on October 16, 2010.

The purpose of the seminar was to create awareness among the public regarding many potential benefits of the hemp plant that is usually considered a source of addiction in the society.

Dr. Zabta Khan Shinwari, Fellow and Council Member of Pakistan Academy of Sciences, was the chief guest while Prof. Dr. Qamar Zaman, Vice Chancellor PMAS-AAUR, Dr. Iqrar Ahmad Khan, former Vice Chancellor University of Agriculture Faisalabad, Mr. Andrew Hall, Co-Founder A2B Design Engineering, Canada, Dr. Mubashir Riaz Khan and Dr. Rehmatullah Qureshi of PMAS-AAUR, Ms Helga Ahmad, Mr. Faiz Kakar addressed the participants while the faculty members and students of the university also attended the event.

Hemp seeds contain plenty of protein, healthful fatty acids, omega3 oil and fiber. Medical hemp helps remove chronic pain and muscle spasms besides improving appetite in HIV/AIDS. It is also recommended for anorexia, arthritis, glaucoma and migraine.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Zabta Khan Shinwari said that world is moving from chemical medicine to herbal treatment to avoid health complications during the medical treatment.

"There is a dire need to conduct research and development in herbal medicine and organic medicine. PMAS-AAUR should pay special attention towards the use of herbal medicine for health challenges," he said.

He pointed out that Pakistan has the potential to export herbal medicine and products but it needs coordinated efforts on the part of the relevant quarters.

Mr. Andrew Hall informed the participants that hemp cultivation is allowed in Canada and it is mostly used for medicinal purposes.

He said: "Some 25 to 30 countries have so far given permission for the cultivation of hemp while Netherland is the biggest producer and Germany is the biggest user for medicinal hemp."

Prof. Dr. Qamar Zaman and Dr. Iqrar Ahmad Khan were of the view that that there is a need for the academia-industry linkages. Dr. Qamar Zaman also informed that PMAS-AAUR and Prince Edward Island University Canada are going to develop linkages that would yield results in the coming years.

Dr. Rehmatullah Qureshi of PMAS-AAUR delivered lecture on history of hemp and its uses and benefits in the context of the local culture of Pakistan.

The hemp is also being used in most of the countries for construction purposes as it has non-toxic natural resistance to mold, insects and fire. Around 1,200 square feet area of hemp absorbs more carbon dioxide than 10 acres of forest land.

Others speakers who also spoke on the occasion termed hemp as environmental friendly product, which grows wildly in most parts of Pakistan, adding "If it is cultivated on commercial basis then it can help meet energy requirements by producing various kinds of biofuels."