In the bustling bazaars of Kathmandu, a new trend is taking hold among the youth - hemp bags. These bags, made from the fibres of the cannabis plant, are fast becoming a fashion statement and a symbol of sustainable living. The trend, which was initially popular among foreigners visiting Nepal, has now caught on with the local youth, leading to a surge in demand for these eco-friendly accessories.
The Allure of Hemp Bags
Hemp bags are made from the fibres extracted from the cannabis plant, which grows up to 20 feet tall. The fibres are primarily produced in the western hill districts of Rolpa, Bajhang, Jumla, and Bajura. The process of making these bags is a labor-intensive one. Locals boil the stems of the plant in ash water to separate the fibre, which is then woven into fabric on handlooms. The hemp cloth is then sent to manufacturers who use it to sew bags.
The bags are lightweight, durable, and resistant to mould and fungus, thanks to the anti-bacterial properties of hemp fibres. Their unique texture and design have made them a hit among the youth. However, pure hemp can be expensive, so it is often mixed with other fibres such as cotton, allo, sisno, dhaka, and others to make the bags more affordable and stylish.
The Role of Hemp in Local Economy
The rising popularity of hemp bags has had a positive impact on the local economy. It has created job opportunities in manufacturing and retail, and has also provided an additional source of income for the locals in the remote hill districts, who supply the hemp fibres. For instance, Hemp House Nepal, a company that manufactures hemp bags, sources its hemp from Bajura and employs 30 people in its factories and outlet in Thamel.
However, the potential of hemp as a major income source for the locals is yet to be fully realized. The remote location of the villages and the high transportation costs pose significant challenges. Despite these hurdles, the hemp industry holds promise for boosting the local economy and promoting sustainable living.
The Global Appeal of Hemp Products
Hemp products, including bags, have a global appeal. They are exported to countries like Canada, the US, Australia, and Europe. These products also qualify for Generalised System of Preference (GSP) treatment, which allows for a reduced import duty or duty-free quota-free entry. This, along with the government's cash incentive for exporters of domestically produced textiles, has the potential to further boost the hemp industry.
The hemp bag craze among Nepali youths is more than just a fashion trend. It is a testament to the growing awareness and commitment towards sustainable living. As the demand for these eco-friendly bags continues to rise, it presents an opportunity to further develop the hemp industry, boost the local economy, and promote sustainable practices.