Is Colombia Poised to be the Seed Bank for the World?

Will Colombia be a global provider of cannabis seeds?
Is Colombia Poised to be the Seed Bank for the World?

As cannabis legalization spreads globally, the need for the well-established grey market genetics companies to go legal is crucial. Original landrace strains have been crossbred to create thousands of strains, yet many legal markets are often limited to sourcing genetics from Canada, Israel, Spain, or Bulgaria. In the United States, the grey market for seeds has exploded, with some of the hottest genetics coming out of legal recreational states including California, Colorado, Oregon, Alaska, and Washington.

After collecting and crossbreeding genetics around the world, many of these grey market seed banks have transitioned into legalization. In other words, they’ve been eaten up by the world’s largest legal cannabis companies looking to attract talented breeders. Canopy Growth Corporation alone has acquired Green House Seeds, DNA Genetics, and now Canada’s international gem, House of the Great Gardner.

Legalizing genetics from the grey market is now possible in countries like Canada, Jamaica, and Colombia. Yet unlike Canada and Jamaica, Colombia is the only country in the world to provide phytosanitary certificates for cannabis seeds.

“This certification acts as the passport for seed export to other countries,” explains Javier García, Technical Director of Global Agronomical Procedures for Colombian licensed producer Pideka SAS.

“All companies wishing to produce medical cannabis must be approved by three ministries: Justice, Agriculture and Health. Each of them gives its own approval to initiate cannabis production. The Ministry of Agriculture, through the National Plant Protection Organization (NPPO), requires cannabis companies to demonstrate their know-how and test their genetics through biological experimentation and technical information, before they are allowed to produce commercially their cannabis crops. Once they comply with these requirements, cannabis companies can mass produce and commercialize their seeds to the local market and they are able to apply for the phytosanitary certification, as the legal document accepted for trading negotiations among countries.”

Colombia has 126 companies licensed for cannabis production. Only 16 companies were selected to produce seeds, allowing them to register 10 batches of genetics at a time. The phytosanitary test requires them to grow a test batch and measure its characteristics before coming to market in order to register the genetic. Many famous Colombian landrace strains will be included from Punto Rojo to Mango Viche.

The seed companies of the world are watching. And they’re jumping at the opportunity to register large seed banks in this new legal market that will be available for the world. As new countries legalize cannabis, they will need to source their genetics from the legal market. The challenge for many of the existing producers is to produce seeds for global export. To do this, they first need to do a test in every single province as most companies grow outdoor.

Pideka SAS is the one exception to the rule and is working with NPPO to develop a test for indoor growth which will accelerate approval and, as such, increase genetic diversity. Unbeknownst to most cannabis companies, Colombia’s standards for agriculture are some of the highest in the world. All seeds exported from Colombia must have the phytosanitary certificate, making them a preferred seed provider globally from everything from vegetables to flowers.

“Pideka is the first indoor licensed producer in Colombia cultivating and processing cannabis at the same standards as Canada. Colombia will be the genetic seed bank for the world, as we have the highest quality standards for seeds globally with phytosanitary certificates,” said Pideka SAS Global Director of Operations, Borja Sanz de Madrid.

Pideka is located in an industrial park just north of Bogota with adjacent warehouses filling up rapidly to meet the global demand. Each facility will be built to EU-GMP and GPP standards to satisfy both the Canadian and European markets. One warehouse can produce 3 million seeds every quarter, providing some of the best margins in the industry for investors.

For decades, the seed industry has been one of the most lucrative markets, yet the legal risk meant some of the top distributors in the industry have faced heavy penalties. Now with legalization occurring globally, this is a chance for genetics to cross over into the light.

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