Colombian cannabis seeds arrive for the first time in Argentina
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Colombian cannabis seeds arrive for the first time in Argentina

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Avicanna made its first export of seeds to Argentina. This year they expect to sell US$300,000 of this product abroad.

By sending a batch of 100,000 cannabis seeds from Colombia to Argentina, the company Avicanna achieved the first Colombian export of the product to that country. This milestone comes a year after the shipment, also for the first time, of seeds of this type to the United States.

According to the company, the export to Argentina was achieved after the Colombian Agricultural Institute (ICA) reviewed the respective phytosanitary requirements. Thus, the Argentine and North American markets joined Peru and Uruguay as the countries that have opened their doors to Colombian cannabis seeds.

How is business going?

Avicanna is a Canadian biopharmaceutical company that arrived in Colombia four years ago. Today it has five hectares of cannabis planted in the village of Bonda, Magdalena, where it grows, develops and markets cannabis-derived products for medical purposes, generating around 100 jobs.

Cannabis seeds are costing around $1 per seed and are used in other countries for recreational or medicinal purposes.

Lucas Nosiglia, Avicanna's president in Latin America, said they have been working for three years on a breeding programme to develop seed varieties adaptable to other environments that work, for example, in relatively high humidity conditions.

"One of the good things about Colombia is that it has 12 hours of light all year round. We produce feminised seeds, which are used to produce medical cannabis. These have a THC content of less than 0.3%, which is what defines a non-psychoactive strain. Our investment in Colombia amounts to US$30 million," Nosiglia said.

Among the opportunities for the business to grow, Nosiglia explained, is the need for some producing countries to access seeds in the middle of their winter cycle.

This is why, despite the pandemic, Avicanna's results in 2020 were positive. That year they sold 7 million cannabis seeds abroad; a quantity that, according to Nosiglia, was "exceptional". Estimates for 2021 are more cautious. The company expects to end the year with foreign sales of US$300,000 and its goal is to become a major genetics centre in the country.

There is still some way to go

One of the cannabis industry's demands is its inclusion in the country's official statistics. According to Rodrigo Arcila, executive president of the Colombian Association of Cannabis Industries (Asocolcanna), no progress has been made. "In order to have more accurate data, as coffee has, we made this request to the DANE. It is difficult to know, for example, how many companies are dedicated to seeds or how much is produced and exported," he said.

For his part, Diego Ruíz, CEO of FCM Global, a medical cannabis corporation, said that the seed business has yet to develop further, as it only represents 5% of the cannabis industry; the other 95% is made up of distillates, isolates or end products.

Finally, Arcila and Mejía agreed that seeds are still not seen as an important focus within the cannabis industry, due to the absence of companies that are more focused on exporting to this type of market.

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