As a historic step, UzCanna Ltd., the subsidiary company based in Malta Melabisbecame the first company in modern times to legally import cannabis seeds into Uzbekistan.
The company was founded in 2018 by a British entrepreneur Damon Boothis importing more than four million EU-certified low-THC Fedora Auto industrial feminized CBD hemp seeds after working with the government of the landlocked Central Asian country to facilitate the move.
The $33 million investment over five years will see UzCanna build a state-of-the-art 25,000 square meter greenhouse to create a seed bank with the goal of growing an additional 8-10 million seeds.
Planting of the initial batch of seeds supplied by Ventura seeds will begin in April 2023 on approximately 500 fully protected hectares (1,235 acres) at UzCanna’s farm in the Sardoba district of the Sirdaryo region of central Uzbekistan, with additional cropland. Seedbank is available online.
“Unmatched Price Points”
According to Booth, buyers are already in place for the first crop, and each plant is expected to offer a generous yield of CBD biomass between an eighth and a quarter of a kilogram.
Listed as a certified hemp strain for legal industrial hemp in both the US and the EU, Fedora Autoseeds is a fully sun autoflowering strain with THC levels below 0.2% but can deliver up to 12% CBD.
This will help UzCanna become one of the lowest priced players in the market as it looks to get products to consumers at a fairer price point, and Booth expects CBD biomass to sell at unbeatable prices in Europe.
Talking to the storeCan Speaking from Istanbul, Booth said: “This puts us ahead of the game in Uzbekistan, where we are currently the only company operating in this space. This is an incredibly exciting but also nerve-wracking step for us. This is a huge project; The largest and only such project in Central Asia.
“Seasonally, we employ up to 200 farmers a year – to the extent that we are trying to change the outlook of the country, but we are confident that this is the right thing to do.
“There will be enormous benefits for Uzbekistan from an economic and environmental point of view, as we gradually increase our growing footprint every year, we strive to develop our own finished products, and in two or three years we will further expand our reach to the Middle East. Asia.”
Melabis has the potential to plant nearly 3,000 hectares (7,400 acres) – equivalent to the footprint of a small city – with the aim of doubling its agricultural footprint annually until reaching full capacity.
However, the increase in production is determined by the amount of seed produced by the company.
“It’s taken a lot of work to get this far, but the fact that a conservative country like Uzbekistan has changed its laws to allow the cultivation of cannabis and now the import of seeds shows the rest of the world what they can do. ” he said.
Construction of the greenhouse is expected to begin at the end of January 2023 and take approximately six weeks. It will be next to a dry milling facility, stack racks and testing lab.
UzCanna’s move to Uzbekistan was motivated by the climate, low operating costs and the fact that the country is experiencing a business boom.
It brings back the legal cultivation of cannabis to a region with a long historical association with the plant. Many experts believe that the territory of present-day Uzbekistan is the origin of cannabis indica and the cultivation of hemp.
The cultivation of cannabis plants by state-owned enterprises and for scientific purposes is legal, provided that they receive the appropriate permission from the authorities. And in March 2020, authorities in Uzbekistan made it legal to grow industrial hemp with THC levels below 0.2% as long as the growers have a government permit.
Booth said: “Our goal is to be the lowest cost but highest quality bulk CBD manufacturer for extraction companies. Our customers are European extraction companies and they extract the finished product. We would like to be a mass supplier of this product.
“Right now these extraction companies are going to the Balkan countries – Lithuania and Poland – and Bulgaria and they’re probably going to pay twice what we’re going to charge for the lower CBD percentage.
“We’re not trying to fully integrate, we’re not trying to be a company that does everything. We only focus on farming. Uzbekistan is good at this. It’s an agricultural country and that’s all we’re going to focus on for now.”
UzCanna hopes to double its original 500-hectare crop on the back of the seed bank. “It’s all about getting enough seeds out of the greenhouse and into the ground.”
Among the investors are a couple of bio-based asset management companies, or Daniel Petrovfounding member and former vice president of Aurora Cannabis.
Petrov is one of the experts in their fields who are working with Melabis to help the company gain a foothold in both the established European and emerging Asian markets.
Other names include David Hyde, Compliance and Security Specialist; Adam Siskin, accomplished financial modeler; Alexzander Samuelsson, renowned extraction chemist; Agronomist Riki Trowe, Ventura Seed Company; Stephen Jordan, CEO of ACP Farms; and global authority on facilities development and operations, Jordan Thomson.
It took nearly two years of negotiations with the Uzbek authorities for UzCanna to initiate the necessary legislative changes needed to operate successfully in the country.
“Our competitors are Africa, China and Colombia in terms of costs. No one can do business in China, there is too much corruption and too many headaches in Africa, and the same in Colombia.
“Yes, we could have given up and gone elsewhere, but once the Uzbek authorities understood our ambitions, they knew the opportunity was too good to pass up.
“The thing is, we got there in the end and we don’t regret sticking with it. And as the only company operating in this field in Uzbekistan, we are ahead of the game.”