R & D opportunities open as Govt helps fast-track organic medicinal cannabis industry

The Government has partnered with the country’s largest and only organic certified medicinal cannabis grower to accelerate the growth of the industry.

This support could enable it to become as successful as our wine industry in the near future, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said.

His announcement highlighted three points, including the research and development opportunities:

      • Government supports the industry to follow in the footsteps of the $2bn wine industry;
      • It will provide an economic boost for regional economies amid an export boom;
      • It will provide jobs in research and development, cultivation, business development, construction and facilities management.

“Now is the perfect time to grow this high-value industry, as international demand for medicinal cannabis takes off while New Zealand is amid an export boom,”  Damien O’Connor said.

“The $32.2 million joint project will further support the country’s economic recovery from COVID-19, providing jobs and growth in our regional economies.”

The project will run from 2022 to 2027, with the Government contributing $13 million through the Ministry for Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund, to help Marlborough-based company Puro Ltd fast-track the establishment of an organic medical cannabis industry in New Zealand.

Matatihi Economic Research has calculated that the project’s potential economic benefit to New Zealand could be up to $236 million by 2032.

Founded in 2018, Puro harvested its first crop of medical cannabis last year. The company is New Zealand’s largest medical cannabis grower, with the only organic certification in Australasia.

“This project will bring significant scale to this new industry, providing domestically sourced medicinal cannabis for Kiwi patients in pain and exciting export opportunities in a global growth market, providing further diversification of land use and export opportunities,” Mr O’Connor said.

“Puro will develop unique cultivars and seed stock, as well as a production handbook that will be available to the wider industry. This will fast-track the industry’s establishment in New Zealand and create a comprehensive blueprint that other Kiwi companies can use to follow in Puro’s footsteps.

“We expect this funding to create significant job opportunities in rural communities, boosting local economies in Marlborough and Kāikoura over the five years.”

There would  be professional jobs in research and development, cultivation, business development, construction and facilities management, which could attract more people to the regions.

“We’re proud to support the medicinal cannabis industry as it sets out to follow in the footsteps of our wine industry which, from first planting on commercial scale in the 1970s, has now reached over $2 billion in export value,” Damien O’Connor said.

The global medical cannabis market is valued at $28 billion and is growing at 27 per cent annually.

Puro expects 50% of its product to be exported this year and aims to increase this year on year as more market access (and greater production) is achieved. Puro expects to export their first shipment next month.

SFF Futures was established in October 2018. The fund supports problem-solving and innovation in New Zealand’s food and fibre sector by co-investing in initiatives that make a positive and lasting difference. This can include: an opportunity for a brand-new product; a new way of tackling a pest or environmental issue; an innovation that transforms by-products into high-value products; improving animal health or welfare; and more.

Its track record:

  • 174 projects funded
  • Total value of projects (Government and industry investment) – $312.29 million
  • Government investment to date – $142.8 million

For a list of current and completed projects visit http://sff-futures.mpi.govt.nz/

Source:  Minister of Agriculture

Author: Bob Edlin

Editor of AgScience Magazine and Editor of the AgScience Blog