Nick Hofmeister: Avoiding Looming Cannabis Supply-Chain Challenges in Canada

Article by Nick Hofmeister, The Province

Nick Hofmeister: Avoiding looming cannabis supply-chain challenges in Canada The scientific toolset to provide clean and consistent product has been available for other agricultural crops for decades. Now it’s available for cannabis, says Nick Hofmeister, the CFO at Front Range Biosciences. Ted S. Warren / AP

There’s a pioneer-like enthusiasm around the fast-approaching recreational legalization of marijuana in Canada, and with good reason. The now-legal cannabis business has quickly become a billion-dollar industry in places like Colorado, which recorded US$1.09 billion in adult-use sales in 2017, and California, which showed revenues of $339 million during its first two months of legalization.

Cannabis will be legal federally and across all provinces, giving the Canadian market more freedoms and fewer nuances than its southern neighbour, and providing huge advantages for rapid growth. As cultivators look to scale production to meet increased demand, the stakes get even higher to ensure consistency in quality and vigour of their crops.

The harm that pests and diseases pose to the health and wellness of crops is considerable. Nothing diminishes profits like a crop-devouring disease. Marijuana and hemp are highly susceptible to threats by insect, fungal and bacterial pathogens. This threat causes growers to use a multitude of pesticides, both legal and sometimes illegal, to produce the highest yields at the lowest cost possible. By doing so, they put themselves at risk for production problems, loss of efficiency, inconsistent product and recalls due to pesticide residue.

The need to get ahead of these issues and create a strong and stable supply chain will be imperative to cannabis-focused businesses in Canada. Front Range Biosciences, a Colorado-based agricultural biotech company specializing in tissue-culture propagation of high-value crops through its Clean Stock® program, is one of the firms working to provide cannabis growers with healthy plant starts through the supply chain.

While tissue culture has been used in other crops for decades, industry interest has been growing for industrial-scale, tissue-culture production processes for cannabis. By implementing tissue-culture propagation, cannabis producers can begin with stocks that are disease-free, pesticide-free and, true-to-type, ensuring plant consistency and more predictable growth.

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