by Matteo Gracis - Hemp is the oldest textile fiber used by man. The first fossil fragments of ropes and knots date back more than 15,000 years.
In China there are references to it dating back to 8,000 BC. and for this it could be one of the first plants used by man together with wheat and barley.
The Sumerians used it both as incense in temples and for medical purposes, but also for making ropes, fabrics and fishing nets.
The fabric for clothing, furniture, ropes and carpets is obtained from the long fiber of the hemp plant. What had made us first in the world for the quality of our hemp, was the fiber, from which we obtained for example ropes and sails for ships, but also sets for brides, linens, curtains and upholstery for mattresses and armchairs. The ships of the famous and unbeatable British fleet had the sails made of Italian hemp, as well as the Amerigo Vespucci, by statute must have the hemp sails of Carmagnola, an Italian Piedmontese variety still grown today.
The same textile fiber that in the past was considered "green gold": a product with a strong added value worked in a traditional way, which guaranteed the majority of the income of those who worked the hemp. The subsequent decrease in cultivation has unfortunately prevented, among other things, the transition from an artisanal to an industrial process by mechanizing the processing processes such as subsequent maceration or combing. The result is that today in Italy, there is no possibility to produce hemp fabric and that available is imported from abroad, especially from China. If we think that cotton is one of the most polluting crops on the planet, while hemp almost never requires herbicides or plant protection products, we would have one more reason to go in this direction, despite being a considerable investment. Imagine, however, the value that could have a hemp made in Italy, grown with our genetics, which gives life to garments made in Italy.
Richard Fagerlund, a scholar who has over 40 years of experience in the management of harmful plant species, recently explained that: "Cotton cultivation is probably the biggest pollutant on the planet, occupying only 3% of the agricultural land of the world, requires 25% of the pesticides used in total. The chemicals go into groundwater and the venom targets not only insects, but all organisms, including humans. In addition, hemp fiber is longer, more absorbent, resistant and insulating than cotton fiber ".
Also at the cultivation level, cotton to grow requires about twice as much water as hemp.
As a fabric, thanks to its hollow fiber, hemp remains fresh in summer and warm in winter. It has antibacterial properties and is able to absorb body moisture, keeping it dry and absorbing infrared rays and UVA up to 95%. The resistance to tearing is three times greater than that of cotton and among the natural fibers it is the one that best resists wear.
"The return of textile hemp? It would be enough to restore existing plants or create new ones, it is something we have already done for wool, I do not see why we can not do it for hemp ". Dr. Marco Antonini goes straight to this point. In addition to being a researcher for ENEA (the National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development) he is also president of Arianne, an international consortium for natural textile fibers. .
According to the researcher: "What we must do is create a quality textile supply chain. We need to build a special plant, the interest is there, now we need entrepreneurs and investments ".
An attempt had been made at the beginning of the 2000s with the Canapa Italia consortium, also supported by the Armani group, which had tried to restart a production of textile hemp using the Fibranova variety. The Linificio Canapificio Nazionale intervened for the spinning of the product, but unfortunately the experiment ended with nothing.
The fundamental problems in recreating a modern textile supply chain are two: the know-how and the necessary machinery: "We have lost the ability of people to work it, but there is also a problem of machinery: we no longer have what we need to extract the fiber long and then make it easy. Recreating an Italian supply chain also means recreating the machinery to go and cut it on the field, which requires very important investments and is the limit that everyone now meets. There is talk of 4 or 5 million euros of investments that scare those who approach. Then there is the problem of maceration ".
The interest in cannabis is growing and the market seems to be moving in this direction due to its high sustainability: it is a material from the past that could also become the material of the