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Flower farm in Ecuador will bounce back by switching to cannabis

With flower sales declining amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, a rose farm in Ecuador has repurposed their land to grow hemp plants.

Ecuador’s flower sector is a traditional export of the country. But flower farms have had to resort to drastic measures after they were struck by COVID-19.

In Tabacundo, Ecuador, The Boutique Flowers farm has built cannabis greenhouses to capitalise on the growing demand for hemp products.

Image: Reuters

Recent legal reforms in Ecuador have legalised the cultivation of hemp, but marijuana remains prohibited. Ecuadorian law prohibits cannabis with more than 1 per cent THC.

The hemp start-up project is called CannAndes.

They plan to begin exporting their product within the next two years, and are seeking licenses from Ecuador to sell CBD products, including creams, oils and sweets.

Since the Ecuadorian government legalised hemp production in 2019, 46 10-year licences for hemp development have been granted by the Ecuadorian Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Aquaculture and Fisheries.

The project was born from hard times,” said Klaus Graetzer, president of hemp start-up, CannAndes.

In the pandemic, the flower industry was hit hard. We saw the chance to take advantage of this new regulation“.

Klaus, who also manages Boutique Flowers farm, saw rose production fall last year from 40 million stems a year to just 15 million.

That decline was nearly double the country’s overall drop in flower exports, which was recorded as 8 per cent.

CannAndes is confident in their ability to market and sell hemp products.

The idea is to get to export smokable CBD flowers to Switzerland: That’s the biggest market for this flower,” said Felipe Norton, CannAndes manager. “Given the experience we have with flowers, it’s a good opportunity.

Many remain uncertain about the stability of hemp products, as sales are largely dictated by trends, consumer fads, and government regulatory decisions.

Ecuadorian Vice Minister of Productive Development Ney Barrionuevo noted the reliance of the hemp industry on consumer demand:

We have the climate and soil conditions to do the cultivation, but it will be the demand that will dictate the level of supply…For now, it is incipient.