Cannabis seeds, another Colombian export bet

The national varieties of this plant are desired for their productivity and quality. The private sector and the ICA are working to certify the seeds to be sold abroad. A firm in the Valley is preparing to send 250,000 seeds to England.

22/12/2021

By: Semana


Breedco, compañía Colombo-británica, que produce semillas de cannabis

Breedco is a Colombian-British company that produces cannabis seeds. – Image: Breedco

The world seed market today moves around 63,000 million dollars and in 2026 it will reach 86,800 million, driven by increased demand from the food, beverage, animal feed, biofuels, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic industries.

These estimates from the consulting firm Markets and Markets show the great business in which multinationals such as Monsanto, Dupont, and Syngenta move, which are the largest suppliers of seeds in the world but do little with one of the fashionable crops: cannabis.

Due to its stigmatization, the different industries that work with this plant have difficulties to finance its operation, despite the fact that more and more territories legalize its medicinal and recreational use. This has prevented the big ones from getting fully into the topic of seeds, but it opens up opportunities for companies like the British-Colombian Breedco, which was born in 2017 with the aim of producing and selling cannabis seeds, as well as dried flowers.


Breedco, compañía colombo-británica, que produce semillas de cannabis

Breedco, a Colombian-British company that produces cannabis seeds – Photo: Breedco

Sebastián Gámez, operational manager of Breedco, explains that they started their business in a municipality in Cundinamarca, but could not continue there because they realized that some of their plants tested positive for heavy metals and cannabis production must be completely organic. The problem stemmed from a neighboring rancher who used pesticides and that affected his plants. They then decided to look for another place for their operation, with low relative humidity and easy for export, and they found it in Vijes (Valle), a municipality that is 30 minutes from Cali and 20 from the Alfonso Bonilla Aragón airport.

There they have five greenhouses in which they employ between 15 and 20 people for agricultural tasks and 35 professionals since the seeds require technology, as well as intellectual property work.

Certificates

On this front, Breedco has worked hand in hand with the ICA, which is the entity that grants the right of protection certificates. These certificates give the country a competitive advantage since they are the ones that guarantee the quality of the seed and are the ones required by companies such as pharmaceuticals or cosmetics to produce cannabis-based products.

In the case of Breedco, they already have 13 certified seeds, which are not only destined for the foreign market, but also for the domestic one. In fact, within the country, they sell about 200 million pesos a month. Not only do they ship the seed, but they also provide service so that buyers can get better results from their crops. “In this case, the role that Colombia has had in sectors such as flowers, whose seeds are imported from the Netherlands, is reversed, and now we sell cannabis genetics to the Dutch,” explains Gámez.

He adds that in countries like the United States, where cannabis crops have had great developments in genetics, there is no certification because each state has different rules. On the contrary, Colombia is part of the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV), an intergovernmental organization based in Geneva (Switzerland), which has the mission of providing and promoting an effective system for the protection of varieties. Plants, with a view to developing new varieties. When giving the certificates, ICA has the support of UPOV.

With more partners

Since they began their operation, Breedco’s partners have invested 1.7 million dollars in the country and expect the income of another million that will come from the American Kinetiq Group, which they met at the Colombia Investment Summit in 2020, the investment wheel of ProColombia. The association of the two companies seeks to leverage its expansion and internationalization. Kinetiq will have the right to sell in the United States.

Meanwhile, the company is getting ready to export 250,000 seeds to England, as well as to start selling the dried cannabis flower, which is where the oils and derivatives are extracted from.

The plan is to build another five greenhouses with sizes between 650 and 1,000 meters, as well as certify more seeds.

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