Sunn hemp, Crotalaria juncea L., is a widely cultivated crop globally that can be grown in frost-free temperate through to tropical environments. Sunn hemp’s range of appealing attributes, including drought resistance, biofumigant properties, and that it germinates easily and grows rapidly, makes it attractive for current and prospective Australian growers. Sunn hemp is predominantly grown for fibre, however it is also recognised as a valuable rotational crop, inter-crop or cover (green manure) crop, as forage or fodder, as a biofuel, and as an ingredient in pharmaceuticals.
Interest in sunn hemp has increased over the past two decades as the fibre is biodegradable and environmentally friendly compared with synthetic fibres. Australia currently imports most of the seed. It is projected that by 2030, the industry will be valued between $2-5m.
The development of an Australian Sunn Hemp Strategic RD&E Plan is a crucial first step in growing this emerging industry. This Plan clearly identifies opportunities for, and barriers to, industry growth, and details research, development and extension priorities. Strategic RD&E Plans for emerging industries are resources that can be used by the industry to help focus their activities and drive investment and growth.
This Plan is the result of extensive desktop research and stakeholder consultation across the Australian sunn hemp industry and pulls together specific recommendations for future investment to support industry growth. When implemented, the Plan will assist Australian agriculture to enhance production and operational flexibility, and deliver a range of eco-benefits and potential new fibre products for the Australian industry.