Bengaluru is one of the pioneers in the hemp business, with many startups launching their operations in recent times.
The cultivation of cannabis in India is under strict regulations, despite its mention in ancient Vedas. The cannabis plant and its various benefits for treating ailments can be traced back to the early texts of the Ayurveda. These health benefits are what market leaders are after. As a result, the government has eased some regulations to allow industrial hemp cultivation, helping Indian entrepreneurs unfold the emerging hemp-based wellness industry.
Citizens have welcomed the new brands with open arms. Rohit Kamath and Loveena Sirohi started India Hemp Organics in 2020. The inspiration behind the brand is the story of a fatal accident. “My fiancé met with a life-threatening accident a few years ago and was hospitalised for weeks. To help her recovery I started looking into CBD oils and other hemp wellness products. But sadly none were available in India so we had to source them from abroad. The oils and medications were showing great results but the problem was that we had to go through the trouble of sourcing these products every few weeks or months and that was getting tedious,” says Rohit, who then began research about Indian cannabis laws and hemp wellness. The brand currently operates in medicine and health, personal care, food and nutrition space.
The founders of Satliva also have a similar origin story. “My husband I were looking for a cure for our son’s chapped lips, that’s when we came across the magical plant of hemp. While we were learning about its multiple benefits we also saw an opportunity for the Indian market to thrive with its introduction. After some research we decided to launch Satliva, a hemp-based health and beauty brand,” says Namrata Redi Sirupa, co-founder.
Namrata believes the Indian market is just opening up to CBD-based products. “The Indian customer base was in the dark for a long time because of lack of awareness, and stigmas associated with CBD, but with time and education they seem to be seeing not only the benefits but the necessities of CBD-based products, for a sustainable future,” she adds.
Rohit has noticed that India’s perspective towards cannabis is changing. “Indians are becoming more inclusive, especially Bengaluru citizens. When we first launched, we were concerned about backlash due to the stigma that surrounds the topic but we were pleasantly surprised with how well the city received our brand,” he says. Not only the younger generation but even the older residents have been open to including hemp products in their daily life. “There’s a misconception that these products are popular only among millennials, but that is false. We have a widely diverse customer base,” he adds. The growing demand for hemp products in the health and wellness field in the city prompted HempCann Solutions, an Odisha based online startup to take matters offline and open a hemp wellness clinic, Vedi Wellness Centre in Koramangala.
“Bengaluru was our biggest base and we found that it was relatively easier to have open conversations with people from the city about the medical potential of Cannabis as compared to other cities. When the opportunity arose, it was a no-brainer to choose Bengaluru for our first branch location,” says Sourab Agarwal, founder.
“At the clinic, we have a doctor whom patients can meet, discuss their lifestyle, their health history, and depending on the type of health issue they have, whether it’s acute or chronic, we suggest the relevant plant medicines, health supplements, lifestyle changes and other health interventions,” he adds.
Cannabis is the future, says Namrata, “Once people are educated about its potential there’s no going back” she adds.
Rohit is in agreement, “If the potential of hemp is truly realised in the country, farmers in the northern hills will be able to grow this amazing cash crop at an industrial level. This can be hugely beneficial for local farmers and also a sustainable alternative for several products from clothes to construction materials,” he says.
At present, there are over 30 hemp-based companies in India producing everything from beauty products to hempcrete, a concrete substitute.
The industrial hemp market is projected to surge at a rate of 34 per cent from 460 crores in 2019 to 2600 crores by 2025, according to an industry report by Markets and Markets which predicts a promising future for hemp-based products in the Indian market.