Felbridge, the first exporters of legal cannabis out of South Africa, have moved swiftly to establishthemselves as the country’s leading cannabis nursery. In the latest of a series of developments, the company has been awarded full member status of the South African National Seed Organization (SANSOR), the first SA cannabis company to do so.
Focus is on high-THC clones and CBG varietals
Felbridge Medical, formerly Polka Dot Strawberry Farms, has reinvented itself in the past 12 months, by:
- Exporting South Africa’s first legal cannabis in July 2020;
- Sewing up the African distribution rights for Geneva-based Puregene cannabis breeding company to sell its genetics via seeds, cuttings or rooted clones established from in-vitro tissue culture;
- Securing offtake agreements with Puregene that may offer access to the lucrative US market (Puregene is one of the few companies allowed to export medicinal marijuana to the States);
- Doing a deal with multinational Cannsun to supply them clones and seeds for their Atlantis grow-op – 3000, high THC clones for a 1,5 m ha outdoor grow and new greenhouse facility;
- Moving beyond CBD into cloning CBG strains for distribution and marketing in Africa, the first step being to supply Cannsun;
First steps to certified cannabis seed production in SA
The SANSOR membership is significant in that it paves the way forward for the establishment of a regulated and certified cannabis and hemp seed production facility and industry in South Africa.
SANSOR GM Lukeshni Chetty is excited “We are glad to have Felbridge on board and we look forward to walking this uncharted path with them. The production of quality cannabis seed in South Africa is a critical first step in the regulation of cannabis.”
Felbridge has been at the forefront of legal cannabis farming in South Africa. The driving force behind it is the well-known western Cape farming family, the Zettlers, who’ve been farming in the Stellenbosch area for four generations. The management team consists of CEO Leslie Zettler, COO Julian Zettler and CFO Barry Zettler. They leveraged their strength in strawberry and sweet pepper cultivation into establishing a new division, a medical marijuana export operation. They were awarded a cultivation license in July 2019 to grow cannabis on 14 000 square metres, and a year later exported their first harvest to Puregene. They are now open for business, offering high CBD and CBG mould-resistent varietals from the Puregene cannabis bank.
Felbridge CEO Leslie Zetler: “Our vision for Felbridge as a leading provider of cannabis and hemp starter materials is becoming more evident. Breeders, cultivators and distributors require high quality, clean and reliable starter materials which are disease and pest free and our membership with SANSOR provides an excellent platform on which to establish Felbridge as a cannabis and hemp seed producer for export into international markets.
The Cannsun Connection
Felbridge is working closely with Cannsunn, which completed its first South African harvest in November 2020.
“We are pleased to work with Felbridge in providing us with the highest quality clones to ensure consistent flower for medical use” says Cannsun CEO David Parry.He says Felbridge is already involved in Phase 2 of the company’s development at Atlantis, near Cape Town.
“This phase of development is approximately 1.5 hectares of outdoor cultivation, over 3,000 rooted clones will be planted utilizing two high THC strains that were supplied by Felbridge Medicinal Cannabis a local licensed operator, which specializes in cannabis starter materials. Additionally, Cannsun has also sourced high CBG clones from Felbridge to grow and cultivate in its greenhouse. Cannabigerol or CBG. Cannsun plans to grow and produce the CBG flower for direct sale and research purposes”.
In the longer term, Felbridge’s partnership with Puregene is the one to watch.
Puregene breeds genetically superior hemp varieties developed using advanced, artificial intelligence driven breeding technology and has one of the largest libraries of cannabis genetics in the world.
For the 2020 season it produced three main varietals: //Pure CBD, // Pure CBD Lite and //Pure CBG. These are the strains now being offered to licensed African growers via Felbridge.