50 Years After The Hippies Hemp Products Are Cool With Nepalese Youth

The Kathmandu Post

Deepak Khanal, proprietor of Welcome Enterprises in Asan, has more than one reason to be pleased. His store in Kathmandu’s fabled bazaar is smothered in Nepal-made apparels ranging from T-shirts and trousers to shorts and caps.

Most of his customers ask for dresses made of Himalayan giant nettle (allo), common nettle (sisno) and cotton.

“Now they come to buy bags made of hemp,” Khanal said. “It has become the fastest selling item in my store.”

Hemp bags cost Rs600 to Rs5,000, depending on the quality and size.

Khanal, who spent most of his life in the alleys of Asan and Basantapur, said that until a few years ago, only foreigners used to buy bags made of hemp to take home as souvenirs.

“Nowadays, the craze has spread to Nepalis.”

Hemp bags are made of hemp fibres extracted from the cannabis plant that grow up to 20 feet tall. Hemp fibre is produced mainly in the western hill districts of Rolpa, Bajhang, Jumla and Bajura.

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 sent to manufacturers who use it to sew bags.

“As the cloth woven on handlooms is usually rough and lacks finishing, some manufacturers also import it from India. The imported product is finer as they use mechanised looms,” said Khanal.

Both hemp and marijuana belong to the same species, Cannabis sativa. The two plants look similar. However, there is substantial variation within the species.


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