Khalid Mansour (L) and Elad Kaspin (R) partnered to start a hempcrete block company in Portugal. Photo by João carvalho

By João carvalho for

This interview was originally published in issue #5 of Cannadouro Magazine.

Two Israelis living in the south of Alentejo have teamed up with two Palestinians to found an innovative hemp block business for sustainable construction. Its aim is to encourage the local economy with as little ecological footprint as possible and, of course, lots of love. From this unlikely relationship of Israeli-Palestinian friendship, Hemp was born.

Elad Kaspin, 34, and Omer Ben Zvi, 36, both Israelis, bought land in southern Alentejo 8 years ago. Fascinated by the hemp plant, they dreamed of setting up a factory to explore one of its many applications. It was at the end of 2020 that the dream came true, when Khalid Mansour, 45, and Azmi Afifi, 50, both Palestinians, also came to Portugal and bought land. Together they invested the necessary capital to start the enterprise and, from the experience and initiative of the four, the adventure they called Cânhamor began. “The four partners are good friends and we are very happy to work together in synergy as Palestinians and Israelis”, they say. We went to visit Cânhamor and discover the history that brought these four entrepreneurs together in Portugal.

What is, in your opinion, “Building with nature instead of exploring it”?
The entire industrial production chain, from start to finish, exploits mother nature, carelessly extracting resources and producing endless waste. We have lost connection with where we came from and therefore we do not take into account the high price our planet pays when we try to make money as quickly as possible. At Canhamôr we think about the planet we are going to leave for our children and their children. In other words, we think about what we can do today so that nature is included in the process and benefits from it, instead of being treated as an infinite resource and a deposit of toxic waste and gases. That’s why we chose to work as locally as possible and with the hemp plant, which has a negative carbon footprint, to create a truly waste-free product.

Cânhamor blocks do not contain any type of cement or unnatural hardening additives.

What materials and methods do you use to manufacture the blocks?
We use the inner part of the stem of the hemp plant. Normally, this part is treated as waste and is discarded. We take this wonderful “waste” and turn it into something usable, with incredible properties. We mix with two types of local Portuguese limestone (the well-known lime), and a special type of clay, to create a very strong, light, fire-resistant building material with a very high level of thermal and acoustic insulation. It also “breathes” very well, eliminating any moisture issues commonly found in existing structures.

Is the hemp you use produced in Portugal?
For now, we buy our hemp in France because the machine needed to transform the plant into the fine form we use in the blocks does not yet exist in Portugal (or Spain). We are working on the purchase and assembly of this machine in our factory, so that we can only work with Portuguese hemp, support local producers and expand the entire hemp industry in Portugal.

Block makers at Cânhamor


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Originally published August 5, 2022 on Hemp Building Mag