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Knowledge Centre

A day in the Life of India’s First Cannabis Company

SANVAR OBEROI

For me, Cannabis and BOHECO stand collectively for all that we seek to become—as a person, as a community and as the world. Let me clarify this with the following personification. In both, I see someone who is on the path to substantially improving people’s lives by introducing environmentally safe products and providing livelihood those who have been replenishing our food baskets-- our beloved farmer brothers and sisters.

The person on this path is kind-hearted, patient and generous with knowledge, happy to stop and share it.

However, many people have a different view of this person, a vision which is confined to that of a wastrel. Ambling aimlessly and creating a nuisance.

Through my essay, I hope to show you what a far cry from “wastrel” this person, more accurately Cannabis, is.

Step one: unlearn what you know about cannabis. Step two: read on.

We have been blessed with a wondrous crop. It can give us clothing, paper, biofuel and lubricants, therapeutic and cosmetic material, food, building material, automobile parts, and more. Industrial hemp is low on THC (the property that makes it suitable for recreational and medicinal purposes) and high on fibre. Mercedes and BMW, the automotive giants, use hemp fiber composites for door panels and its dashboards. If we look further, at the global arena, we find that China is the largest exporter of hemp textiles; Romania is the largest commercial producer of hemp in Europe; Austria has a hemp industry including production of hemp seed oil. It is evident that they’ve realized the adage that Hemp is a ‘gift that keeps giving’.

When the applications of this marvellous crop are endless, one cannot help but have an optimistic outlook for what the future holds in store. However, realizing is not enough. Action must be taken for the crop to reach its potential-- to be used by every household for anything under the roof. The different applications and the mere fact that cannabis is in its infancy in many of its applications makes cannabis very exciting.

Another satisfying aspect of cannabis is that one embarks on a journey of constant learning about this crop. And that very journey led me to BOHECO.

From my very first day at Bombay Hemp Company, I felt like the larger group of the Cannabis farmers. It wasn’t me, you, or them. It was “us”, from day one.

The office sends out a very fresh vibe as soon as you enter it, and from then our day starts (I did not mention working-day on purpose, since it never feels like work. It feels like our life’s purpose to do this). The freshness doesn’t come from the salad-coloured logo I am referring to; I am referring to both the tangible and intangible aspects. First, the meeting rooms have names, such as ‘Sativa’ and ‘Indica’, both being species of the cannabis plant. This ensures that the minds behind BOHECO are aligned with the goal of bringing this wonderful crop to the masses.

BOHECO gives me the feeling that nothing is impossible and it fills me with positivity. At the same time, there are significant challenges that lie ahead.

There so much to be done and accomplished in the cannabis domain. At BOHECO, we sincerely believe that R&D is the backbone of our foundation. Without research and compliance with the government and authorities, we cannot proceed to develop products. Since ‘India’s first cannabis company’ is research driven, we are compelled to pro-actively think about the role of cannabis in society underpinned by science, which provides validation to the path BOHECO has embarked on.

Most of the work revolves around bringing cannabis to the next level. Therefore, we have various meetings throughout the day. Most of these are with kind people who see value in what BOHECO does and then there are meetings that are conducted amongst ourselves; since we operate in mini-teams (you may perceive them as a mini task force). The mere fact that this is a new space ensures that no single day is alike. That does not imply that we ‘just do things’. We certainly have timelines we work with and deadlines to abide by. The fact that we look into multiple domains makes the journey ahead all the more interesting.

We ensure that our work is divided in building blocks so that our minds do not get burdened with the monstrosity of the pile of work that awaits us. We diligently work through those building blocks and in the meantime, it gives us a realistic and holistic view of what we are attempting to achieve.

Before we even realize, the sun has set hours ago, and we decide to allocate time to family and friends. But we shall meet tomorrow; fresh and filled with positivity to take on existing and new challenges!

Hemp & Sustainable Industrialisation

SANVAR OBEROI

The industrial hemp supercrop has a rich history dating ten thousand years back when it was discovered in, and first used across Central Asia. Ever since, it has played a pivotal role in innumerable key advancements for mankind-- ranging from indigenous applications by the ancient Chinese, Indian and Egyptian civilisations, to modern day pure carbon nanosheets in supercapacitors. However, “just because it was used to make paper or clothes back then, it doesn’t mean it should be used even today, right?” we were asked once. She was right; in areas where alternatives are cheaper, easily available, or technically superior, hemp can be replaced. One point for human progress, probably a negative for the Earth.

In the madness of industrialisation, several critics have pointed out, man developed techniques for ‘large scale unsustainable natural resources exploitation’. According to Eric McLamb, Founder & CEO of EGN, today’s changing weather patterns, global warming, environmental degradation, food production challenges and the state of the human condition can all be attributed directly to the coming of age of man’s ingenuity: The Industrial Revolution. The Industrial Age heralded prosperity and monumental improvements in the human condition, but just as quickly ravaged the planet. From then to now, we’ve lost a multitude of natural resources to our idea of “human progress”.

Henry David Thoreau pinpoints the irony of such an existence aptly: “What is the use of a house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on?”

The need of the hour is to heal the planet, and to also devise an imaginative strategy to make us and our world truly thrive. Our imagination, takes us to that world of the Chinese, Indian and Egyptian civilisations where the strongest fibre held together nature and human progress—Hemp.

Logan Yonavjak, Thought Leadership Specialist at Morgan Stanley's Institute for Sustainable Investing, explains this part best-- “not only can hemp be used for an astonishing number of products, its net environmental benefit is impressive. Among the more salient features, hemp grows in a variety of climates and soil types, is naturally resistant to most pests, and grows very tightly spaced allowing it to outcompete most weeds. A natural substitute for cotton and wood fiber, hemp can also be pulped using fewer chemicals than wood because of its low lignin content. Its natural brightness can obviate the need to use chlorine bleach. Hemp is not a panacea for our social, economic, and environmental woes—no single crop can do that. However, as we transition to a future that embraces more sustainable agriculture practices industrial hemp can help lead the way. With focused and sustained research and development, hemp could spur dramatic positive ecological and economic benefits. For instance, renewable, fast-growing hemp is a substitute for many unsustainable products like non-organic cotton (which currently uses more than 25 percent of the world’s insecticides and more than 10 percent of the world’s pesticides) and many plastic products.”

When founding BOHECO, we had firmly envisioned that while Silicon Valley and the best innovators in the world continue to ‘make a dent in the universe’, farmers in developing economies will grow and provide the critical sustainable material of the future. As we travelled further into the Indian countryside, trying to trace the much-fabled history and origins of the cannabis plant, we found its uses in the humblest places – women who used the seed’s oil to moisturise their skin in the dry climate of the mountain, or crushed seeds in a delectable chutney for dinner. These places are probably the origins for discoveries for sustainable materials like hemp-based building material and hemp-based battery chargers.

When we saw this, we asked ourselves, should we continue to build our nation the way OECD countries and economies were built, or are we going to be more cognizant of our impact on the planet? Industrialisation & growth is inevitable across several parts of the world-- Asia, Africa, Eastern Europe, South America & the Caribbean. But we want to build a future where there is room to explore sustainable solutions and implement them, and thereby celebrate their origins, which we often leave behind while climbing the development ladder.

Hemp Powered

BOHECO is set to revolutionise Indian agriculture. We work hard, and in good faith, to connect with individuals and enterprises that share in and enrich our ideas to create sustainability in every sphere of life. We firmly believe that this work cannot be carried out with the desire to lock our work in a safe. In fact, there has never been a better time to share our dream with whoever wishes to walk the same path.

And here’s how we do it: Hemp Powered—a mark to bestow credibility and authenticity to anyone involved in actively promoting the use of hemp through their work.

We invite you to evolve with our open source stream of thought to make history and the future this instant onward.