TSU expands hemp growing project to make TN top state in the region

Students like Anand Kumar are looking at the plant in a new light.
Hemp, the green plant a lot of people associate with CBD, could be the next big crop in Tennessee.
Published: Aug. 1, 2023 at 6:49 PM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WSMV) - Hemp, the green plant used to create CBD products, could be the next big crop in Tennessee.

Tennessee State University is growing it right now thanks to a federal grant. However, they plan to use it in a way that will make farmers a lot more money.

Inside a TSU greenhouse and out on their field, professors and students grow CBD hemp. The crop was supposed to be the next gold or green rush, but when so many farmers in the state started growing it, they didn’t make money.

Students like Anand Kumar are looking at the plant in a new light.

“When I joined, I just knew hemp can be grown for pharmaceutical purposes because it’s been used for a long time,” he said. “But now I’ve come to know it could be used for producing more than 25,000 products.”

The products are made from fiber hemp, a taller plant not currently on TSU’s main campus.

“We can’t grow fiber here at the same time because fiber can contain male plants also,” said Kumar. “And if they get pollinated, they will lose CBD percentage up to 30 to 40%.”

TSU decided to move the crop ten miles away to Cheatham County. The fiber plant could eventually be used for building materials, clothes and even car parts.

Professor Emmanuel Omondi knows the potential the plant can bring is still questionable.

“The fiber hemp is something I am really really really excited about,” Omondi said.

He explained what will become of the products lies in the plant’s stem. The school is talking with car companies to create material for them once they are confident the green plant has farmers seeing green.

“So when these growers, they begin to grow a lot of fiber hemp, they have a place to send that raw material from their fields,” Osmondi said.

Currently, the project has four graduate students, and Osmondi plans to bring on 15 more this year.