Establishes Itself as South Africa’s Leader in Cannabis Cultivation & Supplier of Cannabis & Hemp Starter Materials to Global Markets
By Edward Tsumele, Cannabis Business Africa Editor
As the legal cannabis industry is now slowly taking shape, a local company Felbridge, a leading South African cultivator and supplier of cannabis and hemp starting materials has announced its first international export deal, exporting South Africa’s first commercial shipment of Dry Cannabis Flower to Switzerland..
The Stellenbosch based cannabis start up shipped its first shipment last week.
The 320kg shipment was dispatched from the Cape Town International Airport and establishes Felbridge as a leading producer for the global market and directly links African cultivation with European consumption. The shipment is the first of a significant multi-year offtake agreement with similar size shipments expected to be exported in line with the company’s production schedule. The export follows the announcement by Felbridge that it had recently exported its first shipment of cannabis in-vitro tissue culture to a licensed producer in North Macedonia.
South Africa is currently playing a catch up to other countries in the region when it comes to developing a regulatory framework, expected to see a number of players scramble to get licenses once regulatory issues have been dealt with. While it might take a while for medical cannabis products to be registered local by the South African Health Products regulatory Authority, on the hemp side things seem to be moving faster.
The Department of Agriculture, Land Reforms and Rural Development is expected to issue its first hemp licenses in October. A master plan for the cannabis industry is currently a subject of negotiations between stakeholders at Nedlack, having been submitted there last week. Hemp licensing has been removed from the Department of Health and is now housed in the Department of Agriculture, effectively easing the way for businesses to get the license as hemp is now regarded as a crop instead of a drug.
Leslie Zetler, Chief Executive Officer of Felbridge, commented “Exporting South Africa’s first commercial shipment of medical cannabis to Europe represents our most significant milestone to date. It is a major achievement not only for our Group but for the South African cannabis and hemp industry and it reinforces our belief that our genetics, which are developed using artificial intelligence breeding technologies, will continue to experience strong demand from the European market. We believe that we have taken a giant first step in answering the call of President Ramaphosa who in his 2020 State of the Nation address called for the development of the local industry in line with global trends.”
Felbridge, which obtained its cultivation license in 2020, is not only developing its own distribution channel for its dry flower and starter material offering but is also positioning itself to assist other licensed cultivators who utilize its genetics with offtake opportunities into global markets.
“Navigating the highly-regulated global cannabis market can be challenging for smaller producers and Felbridge is bridging this gap by providing licensed cultivators with genetically superior cannabis and hemp genetics in the form required – whether in seed, rooted clones or in-vitro tissue, which meet the quality and regulatory demands of its customers. Our existing catalogue of genetics have unique and predictable characteristics thereby maximizing production potential, whilst minimizing risk.
“Following this export, we are now convinced that the regulations, market and logistics have been proven to function as planned and we will soon be approaching other licensed cultivators with offtake opportunities utilizing Felbridge genetics. Our special focus will be on emerging farmers with the requisite skills, licensing and infrastructure to cultivate high quality medical cannabis flower for export to our existing customers as well as establishing new markets for our products. Offtake agreements not only enable license holders to solidify their business plans and obtain financing, they allow the industry to expand and flourish. There is great potential for South Africa to become a significant producer for the global market thereby generating significant export revenue for the economy. This leads to increased employment opportunities, skills development and further investment into the sector.” added. Zetler.
Felbridge has formed key relationships with international companies and local institutions which will provide a solid platform on which to grow. It is the licensed distributor for Swiss based Puregene for the African market and distributes their genetics via seed, rooted clones and tissue culture and has also signed a co-operation agreement with Perfect Plants, a leading biogenetics company based in the Netherlands, enabling it to expand its starter material offering by utilizing Perfect Plants’ extensive genetic library and distributing same through in-vitro tissue culture, seeds or rooted clones for on-sale into global markets. As a full member of the South African National Seed Organization (SANSOR), Felbridge plans to commence cannabis and hemp seed production in the fourth quarter of 2021.
The company aims to become the leading cultivator in South Africa serving the international market with high quality medical cannabis and hemp products as well as starting materials and firmly believes that it is well on track to meet its objectives. “Felbridge continues to execute on its strategy and has now successfully completed exports of both dry flower and in-vitro tissue to Europe and also supplies local licensed cultivators with seed, rooted clones and tissue culture. Our order book continues to grow which is testimony to the quality service and products we offer and this will no doubt provide a solid platform for future growth. Felbridge has proven to the market that we not only have off-take but that we have delivered upon it and will continue to do so as the company and industry develops. This would not have been made possible were it not for our dedicated team of employees who have worked tirelessly in ensuring that our quality products are brought to market in a safe and responsible manner meeting all regulatory requirements in the process.” added Zetler.