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Useful herbs

A small but confident Ukrainian market of non-narcotic hemp annually doubles, conquering the world with better seeds

"We are now registering new varieties in Italy and Poland," says breeder Irina Laiko. - In late November - early December 2016, a Ukrainian variety was registered in Uruguay. "
The work of Vladimir Yakimchuk would be envied by Bob Marley himself - a Ukrainian grows hemp. Legally and on large areas. However, unlike the legendary Jamaican Yakimchuk not interested in dried leaves, but the seeds of the plant. Annually, on 154 hectares of his farm "Kravets O.P" in Vinnytsia region, he collects 160 tons of seeds of this crop, half of which he sells abroad.
Now Ukrainian cannabis seeds are sown and processed on both sides of the ocean. In the portfolio of domestic cannabisers - contracts for the supply of cannabis seeds in the US, Uruguay and Paraguay. At the final stage are negotiations with Iran, China, the Baltic countries, Chile, Italy and Colombia.
Ukrainian hemp at a special price because of the high content of oil in it and the level of fibrousness. Seeds are ideal for food production, and from processed stems make fiber for clothing and footwear. The bonfire goes to the production of building materials and even fuel. According to the head of the association "Ukrainian technical hemp" Alexander Ignatyuk, Ukraine today is one of the leaders in Europe in terms of production of cannabis.
Sorting art
On the market of technical hemp, Yakimchuk came when the market itself was not yet. Farmer attracted almost complete lack of competition on it. In the 1990s, the industry became a victim of the fight against drug addiction. Numerous restrictions in the legislation practically destroyed the national hemp industry.
The turning point of Ukrainian hemp breeding was 2012, when the country abolished compulsory protection of cannabis crops, which significantly increased the profitability of this business. It was then that Yakimchuk decided to sow his first hemp field. His hand was played by the fact that then hemp was grown by units: the Kharkov cable plant, the company Linen of Desna and "Agro-Khanf". "There was a very narrow market, but I decided to invest, because I assumed that in the coming years there will be an interesting development," says the agrarian.
Yakimchuk's flair did not disappoint: the development of the market became really interesting. In 2013, the authorities canceled restrictions on the location of fields. Prior to this, it was permitted to place their hemp fields no closer than a kilometer from the settlement, road or forest and at least 3 km from the state border. According to Ignatyuk, 80% of the country's territory fell under such restrictions, which greatly hampered the development of cannabis cultivation.
After the cancellation of restrictions, the marginality of the hemp business doubled. According to Yakimchuk's observations, now the margin in the seed market reaches 70%, and the sellers of plant stems could expect a margin of up to 300%.
The increase in margins has led to an increase in the area of ​​hemp crops. Yakimchuk, who started his business from a field of 20 hectares, now sows this crop of 154 hectares. Hemp fields of 150 hectares are spread in Vinnitsa and 4 hectares in the Kiev regions. According to international industrial standards, this is not so much, however, on the margin of "Kravets O.P" the varieties of the best breeding grow. For example, on the smaller of the Yakimchuk plantations grows the world-renowned grade YUSO-31.
Last year, according to analysts of the agrarian market, Ukraine sowed cannabis 2800 hectares for the collection of seeds and about 600 hectares for fiber. This is twice as much as in 2015. The harvest amounted to about 2,500 tons of seeds and more than 5,000 tons of stems. "Today, despite the lack of money, for war and loss of territories, the area of ​​cannabis crops grows every year," - sums up Ignatyuk.
Have gone beyond
Along with crops and crops, hemp exports also doubled. According to Ignatyuk, now Ukraine sells up to 80% of the collected cannabis seeds abroad. The buyers of the Ukrainian product were found all over the world. In 2015, the company "Kravets O.P" signed an agreement with the largest Kazakhstan paper manufacturer by LLP "Kagaz Shahary SEZ". In February 2017 Kazakhs planted 1700 hectares of Ukrainian hemp, in 2018 this area will grow to 5000 hectares. Ahead - contracts for the supply of cannabis in four countries in Asia and America. In all, about 80 tons of seeds will be exported.
The promise of cannabis exports is confirmed in the company "Ukrainian Institute of Cannabis", which last year, together with the Institute of Bast Crops of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, has signed contracts for the supply of seeds to Italy, the USA and Canada.
"We are now registering new varieties in Italy and Poland," says breeder Irina Laiko. - In late November - early December 2016, a Ukrainian variety was registered in Uruguay. "
The reason for such popularity is the unique technical parameters of domestic varieties of cannabis. For example, the variety "Glukhovskaya-51", which is now registered with the Ukrainian Institute for Plant Variety Expertise, showed a fiber content of 38.9% - the highest in the world, and the "Glesia" variety pleases Europeans with a record yield of 2 tonnes per hectare of seeds . For comparison: the Russian variety of cannabis "Surskaya" yields only up to 1.1 tons of seeds per hectare.
Working with Ukrainian suppliers, Europeans receive a double benefit. In the EU, cannabis cultivation is a special branch that receives state subsidies for crops and for cannabis processing: from 200 to 600 euro per hectare. This reduces the cost of technical hemp, which grows from inexpensive and high-quality Ukrainian seeds.
Natural selection
Collect cannabis seeds in Ukraine specially modified by a keyboard type harvester. For example, the equipment of the company "Kravets O.P" modernized the mechanism of the John Deere harvesting machine so that the stems of the plant are minimally wound on moving parts.
After harvesting it is important to properly dry the seeds - at a temperature of no more than 40. Violation of the temperature regime can lead to oxidation of the grain, and it will lose its presentation. After that, the seed material passes a multistage screening on the line from the sorting and calibrating apparatus, the vibrating table and the photoseparator - the most expensive unit of the system. So the best seeds from the whole harvest are selected, which cost almost twice as much as the rest.

For the quality of products have to pay not only the buyers of grain, but also the farmer. The cost of the device installed in a small shop "Kravets O.P" near Kiev - 60,000 euros. However, even such an investment, an experienced cannabler can quickly return if it sells its products abroad. The benefit of exports is obvious: in Ukraine, the price of 1 kg of seed material barely reaches 3.5 euros, and abroad the same amount of seeds can be sold for 6 euros.

Even faster the investment can be returned if the farmer grows organic hemp. A good example of this kind of approach is the farm of Transcarpathian farmer Pavel Tizash "Tisa Bio". Unlike Yakimchuk, Tizash on each hectare of his field collects three times less - about 300 kg. However, the profit of his small farm is in organic certification: if the kilogram of ordinary seeds on the exchanges of North America and Canada is estimated at about 4 euros, then the same amount of organic seeds can be sold for 6.45 euros. Now all the 20 tons of seeds that Tizash collects from its 80 hectares are completely redeemed by companies from Switzerland, Germany and Hungary.
Universal raw materials
About 50,000 products are made from cannabis. Fibers are made from stems, oil is made from grains. But the most valuable part of technical hemp are leaves and inflorescences. According to Ignatyuk, these parts of the plant are twice as expensive as seeds.
Leaves and inflorescences are used in natural cosmetics and pharmacological preparations, for the treatment of severe forms of cancer, AIDS and epilepsy. In addition, leaves and inflorescences are used in the food industry. There are more than 500 recipes for hot and cold snacks, desserts and drinks, as well as sauces with cannabis. Ignatyuk knows this well, who advised Lithuanian restaurateurs who opened a hemp restaurant. "There (in the restaurant) in the menu, for example, there are cabbage rolls that are wrapped in hemp leaves," he says. - This dish is in Georgian and Azerbaijani cuisine. Known hemp vodka, and hemp beer takes several percent of the world beer market. " From collapsed hemp seeds in North America produce high-protein food mixtures for athletes. They retain nutritional properties and are easily digested. A 500-gram jar of such a mixture in the US costs $ 45.
In Ukraine, buying hemp assortment in full is not yet ready. Nevertheless, according to the cannabist Victor Polonchuk, for some products from hemp fiber demand is stable. Polonchuk runs the company Agro-Khanf, which grows hemp and produces from it a variety of products: from socks and pillows to building plates and fuel briquettes. "The percentage of the population who wears natural things in any country is stable - about 10%," notes Polonchuk. - In Ukraine, given its nuances, let it be about 5%, but they are regular customers. "
The next stage of Polonchuk's business development is foreign markets. This year the company plans to enter the European market with an experimental batch of cannabis shoes. Competing Ukrainians are planning not only quality but also price. If hemp shoes of a European manufacturer costs from 50 to 100 euros, then the Ukrainian one is three times cheaper. "We have already ordered an experimental lot, and if it passes the tests, it will be quite inexpensive products," Polonchuk assures.
Start the roots
According to Ignatyuk, Ukraine is on hand that many countries of America and the EU do not have their own selection school. Even the leaders of the current market of technical hemp - China, Chile, Canada and France - until recently, there were no worthy breeding traditions in cannabisry. For example, French cannabisers planted hemp of the grade JUO-31 in their fields and, according to the license contract, sell it as a seed. "The 85th tradition laid down by the Soviet school of selection of cannabis cultivation to the present day at the highest level continues a group of Ukrainian specialists who, with their developments for decades, outstrip the analogues of the economically developed countries of the world and are inherently unique," he notes.
In addition, now European cannabisers alone can not meet the existing demand for hemp fiber. This deficit is partially covered by Ukrainian supplies. Ideal conditions for hemp breeding guarantee Ukraine a place among the main suppliers of hemp raw materials to Europe.

Yakimchuk is sure that the growing demand for quality hemp raw materials will lead to the emergence in Ukraine of its own processing industry. This will make it possible to trade not only raw materials, but also finished products: fiber, cellulose, biocomposites, textiles and finished products from it.
According to Polonchuk estimates, the creation of fiber production with 100% content of cannabis is not cheap - about 50 million euros. However, the resulting fiber will be much more expensive than leaves, inflorescences or cannabis seeds - from 600 to 800 euros per ton. "Long fiber is more expensive, but in Europe it is almost not produced, mainly by China," Yakimchuk said. - Ukraine has great opportunities to export fiber. "
Dmitry Gromov, magazine LANDLORD
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