Leading Australian hemp advocate Charles Kovess has been appointed secretary of the newly created Federation of International Hemp Organisations (FIHO) as the industry looks to present a unified global voice.
Kovess, a lawyer turned motivational speaker and author, is secretary of the Australian Industrial Hemp Alliance (AIHA) and was named in the same role for the Belgium-based FIHO at its inaugural annual general meeting.
AIHA president James Vosper said the appointment will give Australian farmers, and others in the local industry, “a voice on global matters”.
“It is also an opportunity for Australia to help in steering the future of the industry,” he said.
The formation of a global organisation, which has been two years in the making after 20 national bodies formed a working group in 2020, “signals the transition from interim leadership to an established official organisation”, FIHO said in a statement.
“The mandate of the new FIHO is to unite industry leaders, consolidate market expertise, coordinate resources and speak with one voice on hemp issues at the global level,” it said.
“FIHO will identify and create opportunities, and scale up sustainable hemp production, marketing and trade to benefit the global hemp industry, consumers and the environment.”
The first director general was named as Fredéric Vallier, an experienced executive who has served as secretary general of the Council of European Municipalities and Regions for the past 12 years.
He will manage FIHO operations and report directly to the newly elected board which, along with Kovess, includes Ted Haney from Canada, Daniel Kruse from Europe and US-based Patrick Atagi.
Vallier said: “My goal, as director general, is to build a strong international federation able to influence international policies to support the development of hemp and its derived industrial products.”
Haney, the new chairman, added: “The combination of a strong membership, committed directors, and expert management will ensure a successful launch.
“The formation of FIHO represents the next important milestone in the development of the global hemp industry.”