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In conversation with Rohit Shah, Co-Founder & CEO, Hemp Horizons

The company is also procuring raw materials needed to produce hemp goods. Hemp Horizons began researching Ayurveda to convince authorities about hemps benefits.

1. What is your company all about? Tell us about your products and services.

Hemp Horizons is the first and largest Ayurvedic products Direct to Retail company. We are also the largest white labelling company supplying products to over 90% of the Indian hemp brands. We own our manufacturing facility with a capacity to process over 15 tons of hemp which no one in the industry currently has. Hemp Horizon contract manufactures hemp products and owns a brand called Health Horizons. Under its Health Horizons brand, Hemp Horizons sells top of the line hemp products. The company achieved its goal by researching machines that can make hemp products. Hemp Horizons manufactured its first such machine in India after eight months of extensive research. The company is also procuring raw materials needed to produce hemp goods. Hemp Horizons began researching Ayurveda to convince authorities about hemps benefits.  Subsequently, the company received its first license in May 2018 from the Ministry of Ayush in UP. Under the permit, Hemp Horizons could process hemp seed. The company launched three products including the Sativa Hemp Nubs (Hemp Hearts), Sativa Hemp Powder, and Sativa Hemp Oil. Today Hemp Horizons is a contract manufacturer for 90% of Indian brands. The company's leadership envisions Hemp Horizons becoming the most significant direct to consumer manufacturing company in India.

2. Tell us about the hemp industry scenario currently?

India’s hemp/cannabis industry  is growing significantly. We saw a surge of new entrepreneurs entering the space apart from established players working under the wraps.

The industry went from 8 registered startups last year to over 60 registered companies this year.

India, voted yes to reschedule cannabis and cannabis extracts from Schedule IV to I in the UN on Dec 3rd, 2020. This is a positive sign.

Even FSSAI released the draft notification on Oct 27th, 2020 for hemp seed and hemp seed product standards to regulate as food. We as a country are slowly but surely moving towards a much wider acceptance and am much more clean and organized legal framework.

3. What are the challenges and solutions for the industry?

The biggest challenge remains marketing these products. Due to stringent regulations on promotion on top social media platforms.

This has made companies think more and come up with innovative methods to educate the audience and market. We as a company have been working organically for the past 15 months with little to no ad spends. 

4. What are your top-of-the-line hemp products in the market right now?

● Our Hemp seed products, 

● Sativa Hemp Nubs (Shelled Hemp seeds) 

● Sativa Hemp Powder (Hemp seed powder)

● Sativa hemp oil (Cold pressed 100% Hemp seed oil) are the best sellers. 

 5. How are you dealing with the stigma of Hemp in Indian society ?

The stigma is going away and FAST! The conversations that were a taboo just months ago are turning into healthy discussions and debates.

With the UN vote to reschedule cannabis and its extracts. Worldwide there is a change in perception. When a powerful organization like the UN recognizes the medicinal and therapeutic effects of the plant. It becomes easier to make local authorities understand.

We work a lot on awareness campaigns, how to use, on educating the masses on the medicinal and nutritional benefits. 

Rather than just marketing the product, we have been focused on creating awareness of the whole plant. Once an individual understands the socio-economic impact of this plant. There is no other miracle one needs to have a sustainable and healthy world.

6. Tell us about the wonderful benefits and uses of hemp ?

a) Protein from hemp seeds is more digestible than meat, whole eggs, cheese, human milk, cow’s milk or any other high protein food.

b) Hemp has Edestin and Albumin, considered as “high-quality storage proteins”. They house a significant amount of all nutritious Essential Amino Acids.

c) Presence of Omega 3 and Omega 6 help control many internal health processes. Ranging from increasing cell growth, regulating the immune system, and eliminating symptoms of skin disorders to keep the body healthy.

d) Slowing the digestion process, it keeps the body feeling fuller, hence acts as a weight loss supplement.

e) Called as nature’s superfood, it includes all muscle-building Amino Acids such as Branched-Chain Amino Acids (BCAA).

f) They have high levels of the amino acid- Arginine, that has anti-inflammatory properties.The Nitric Oxide produced by Arginine results in enlarged and relaxed blood vessels, leading to a decreased risk of heart disease and stroke.

g) Cannabis has a lot of medicinal properties. It is very much capable to relieve the menstruation cramps that women go through during their periods. Consumption of cannabis is also helpful in treating hair fall, improves lung capacity and also is used for weight loss purposes. India is home to a lot of diabetic people and hemp can even regulate and prevent diabetes with its impact on insulin.

 7. What is your business/market growth?

The global industrial hemp market size is expected to reach USD 15.26 billion by 2027, exhibiting a revenue-based CAGR of 15.8% over the forecast period, according to a new report published by Grand View Research, Inc.

The market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 18.1% from 2020 to 2027 for medical cannabis. India has over 2 cr legal cannabis users. The Indian cannabis and hemp market combined is over a billion dollars. We as a company have grown significantly in the past 6 months. Covid has made people more aware of their eating habits. Hemp and its products are known to be superfoods and the best plant based medicine.

8. What are your future plans?

●  We are going to expand our portfolio of seed based products very soon and are also entering into the medical cannabis extracts with an array of new products. 

9. Tell us about the funding and your team

We have been a bootstrapped company so far. We are three founders who met while studying in India and later transferred to the same university in the USA. Which is were we came across cannabis and its uses and decided to bring “Bhang” back to India. Something that belonged to our ancient ways of live was missing and it was time to bring back the ancient knowledge with modern technology. We are working on our first seed fund round. Hoping to close very soon.

10. What are your Post-Covid plans?

We have been working on a few medicinal cannabis products that we aim to launch early next year. These products will be targeting aliments like anxiety, depression, insomnia, pain relief etc. Due to Covid, there has been a significant decline in people’s health not just for immunity but as an overall well being.

With these new products in the pipeline we aim to establish awareness towards a more natural and plant based living.

11.  What are your expectations from the govt. about rules and regulations for hemp

The government is working in the right direction slowly but surely. With the UN vote which India supported, is a welcome step.

FSSAI is working on regulating hemp seed products as food. We would really like the government to think about the cultivation policies that exist. The rationale  should be more towards a holistic policy that supports the farmers and the indigenous cannabis varieties of our country. India has good cannabis plant varieties which need to be protected rather than importing certain plant varieties which will eventually destroy our indigenous plant species.


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