Say the word cannabis and your eyebrows go straight up. However, it is the scientific name of cultivated hemp, which has many applications: insulation, textiles, automobiles, etc. For some time now, CBD, one of the non-hallucinogenic cannabinoids found in the plant, has been all the rage in the cosmetics, food and vape sectors. A Walloon farm has just become the first Belgian producer of this CBD hemp.
Hemp is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world. It is coming back to the fore at a time when, around the world, reducing the carbon footprint has become a must. Used in construction, hemp makes it possible to greatly reduce carbon emissions. Thus, in our French neighbours, there is a real industry that supplies the construction trades with wool and hemp concrete. But also the automotive sector. Indeed, hemp fibers are used to produce lighter and less polluting alloys. An adequate solution used by the biggest manufacturers (Jaguar, Alfa Romeo, Peugeot, Renault, etc.) to green their ranges. Finally, hemp stalks have long been of interest to textile groups at large. Decathlon, taking advantage of the French sector, has just started marketing socks.
Hemp is one of the oldest cultivated plants in the world. It is coming back to the fore at a time when, around the world, reducing the carbon footprint has become a must. Used in construction, hemp makes it possible to greatly reduce carbon emissions. Thus, in our French neighbours, there is a real industry that supplies the construction trades with wool and hemp concrete. But also the automotive sector. Indeed, hemp fibers are used to produce lighter and less polluting alloys. An adequate solution used by the biggest manufacturers (Jaguar, Alfa Romeo, Peugeot, Renault, etc.) to green their ranges. Finally, hemp stalks have long been of interest to textile groups at large. Decathlon, taking advantage of the French sector, has just started marketing socks. Regardless of these classic uses, hemp is experiencing an incredible resurgence of interest around the world due to CBD or cannabidiol, one of over 120 cannabinoids found in the plant. The best known is obviously THC, responsible for the well-known psychotropic effects. CBD is an inert product that both the World Health Organization and the World Anti-Doping Agency deem harmless. Its consumption is rising sharply every year in the world and also in Belgium (+20%). Shops have also flourished here lately. They offer, among other things, oil, vape products or CBD balms. Cannabidiol would, in fact, have painkilling properties useful for relieving patients with fibromyalgia, rheumatism or multiple sclerosis. It would also have a positive effect on stress, anxiety or sleep disorders. These virtues, discovered relatively recently, have boosted the cultivation of CBD hemp, especially in the United States where 202,000 hectares have been planted in a few years. Closer to home, Switzerland has also perfectly regulated the cultivation and production of CBD. And with us? IsoHemp manufactures insulation from hemp in Wallonia, but the company must obtain supplies from abroad. Indeed, the entire Walloon sector has to be rebuilt since the bankruptcy, in 2019, of Be.Hemp, the first hemp processing company which had settled in Marloie. Without going into details, this bankruptcy led farmers to stop growing for lack of outlets. These setbacks did not discourage Tanguy du Monceau. Coming from a family of entrepreneurs well known in Belgium, he was, almost at the end of his studies in agronomy, one of the founders of CO2logic. This company has been wildly successful as it has helped thousands of businesses reduce their carbon footprint. Upon leaving CO2logic, now in Swiss hands, Tanguy du Monceau took over the Domaine de Bruant, a farm in the family for four generations and located next to the Château de Bioul in the Namur region. “Besides livestock, we produce wheat, barley and rapeseed in poor land which is not suitable for vegetables. I wondered how to make this farm using conventional methods more sustainable. I converted part to bio, we switched to no-till and we practice agroforestry (association of trees, crops or animals on the same plot, Ed. But what else to grow? I naturally turned to hemp cultivated or cannabis sativa L. It grows visibly, quickly covers the ground, requires no pesticides or herbicides and requires little intervention.It is perfect for crop rotation and soil regeneration. I have therefore planted between one and three hectares of it each year since 2019. In addition, cultivated hemp captures CO2 at the rate of 15 tonnes per hectare!Given its qualities, it is therefore an ideal resource within the framework of the objectives of the European Green Pact Moreover, the Walloon Region offers aid for cul environmentally friendly tures. Like that of hemp.” Between 2019 and today, Tanguy du Monceau has experienced a real obstacle course to obtain answers to his questions and to validate the legality of his production. Namely: the stem for textiles, paper , insulation and other industrial outlets; leaves, flowers, biomass for the cosmetic and medical sectors; seeds for food (chocolate, biscuits and roasted seeds) and CBD oil. Working closely with the Belgian authorities, Tanguy and his team were also accompanied by Dr Jean-Michel Romnee and his team from the Walloon Center for Agronomic Research.They regularly tested the production, in particular to ensure that the THC level present did not exceed not the 0.2%. An obligation in Europe. “I therefore grow and sell legal products, continues Tanguy du Monceau. CANBE, the name of this specific activity of the farm, is the first producer and grower of Belgian organic CBD. I can therefore supply the various basic products to customers who will be required to respect their own strict specifications. For example, in cosmetics, the CBD must come from the leaves. Two groups active in the sector have already come to see me. In Belgium, CBD is considered a novel food. It cannot therefore be sold for this purpose until the European Union decides. On the other hand, in the United Kingdom, it is a food like any other. I could therefore export, which I also have the authorization to do.” Given the absence of a hemp stalk processing plant in Wallonia, CANBE cannot currently value all of its production, only the part CBD. Tanguy du Monceau hopes that his experience and his know-how, which he intends to share, will create emulators and will make it possible to recreate a truly complete hemp industry in Wallonia and Belgium. “Hemp stalks are heavy and bulky, he concludes. It is not a product that is easily sent hundreds of kilometers. The ideal would therefore be to have this processing plant which would make it possible to supply the various industries interested in stem-derived products. The Walloon Minister of Agriculture, Willy Borsus, is in favor of this valuation but things have to change. It’s time to get going, otherwise we’re going to be overtaken, once again, by our German and French neighbors who have structured their industry well. It’s a great opportunity to create a real sustainable short circuit with Walloon know-how and engineering.” In the long term, Tanguy du Monceau does not rule out creating a range of Walloon products with the farmers who would join him. History of highlighting our terroir on bottles of CBD oil.