SARAJEVO, May 22 (Xinhua) -- Prirodno bilje (Natural Herbs) is the first company in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) allowed to produce and export industrial hemp, the state-owned Federal News Agency (FENA) reported on Friday.
The company, based in Banja Luka, some 190 kilometers northwest of the capital Sarajevo, has received the exporting license from the Ministry of Agriculture of Republika Srpska (RS), one of BiH's two entities.
The company's owner, Nedeljko Kusturic, said he had already secured a deal with a company in Germany, which is ready to buy their future crops.
Prirodno bilje produces about 150 tons of various medical herbs and aromatic spices, mostly for the domestic market.
Marijuana and hemp are varieties of cannabis, developed due to selective breeding -- marijuana for its narcotic components and hemp for its fiber. All varieties of cannabis have been banned throughout the world since the 1960s as it was listed as dangerous drug by the United Nations (UN).
Over the past decades, several nations have recognized the industrial and medical values of hemp. To date, over 20 countries have legalized or decriminalized cannabis.
"More than 200 products are made from industrial hemp. Its seed is used in the food industry. Hemp is also used in construction as an insulation material. Pellets and briquettes for heating are also produced from it as it has more calories than wood," Kusturic explained.
BiH has recently taken the first steps towards legalizing cannabis for industrial and medical use. The decision comes as more than 27,000 jobs have been lost in the country since the COVID-19 lockdown started in mid-March.