Portuguese company Holigen is looking to build one of the largest cannabis cultivation facilities in the world in the Alentejo region of Portugal. The site will house 500,000 kilograms of cannabis per year to start.
According to the company, the warm climate and low labor costs make Portugal an ideal place to grow cannabis.
When it is fully operational in 2020, Holigen claims the facility will be capable of producing 635,000 kilograms per year. It’s a harvest that would place Holigen among the world’s top cannabis producers.
In August 2018, Holigen acquired a 5,000-square-meter site in Lisbon. In September, the company did its first non-founder capital raise to begin building the biggest indoor, and outdoor licensed medical cannabis grow in Europe.
Holigen is based in Portugal. Co-founder Pauric Duffy runs that business, including subsidiary RBK Biopharma, while co-founder Peter Comerford runs an Australian business.
The company’s projects are largely being financed by the $4.4 million in proceeds from Holigen’s deal with Flowr (TSX-V:FLWR) in which the Canadian firm bought about a 20 percent stake in Holigen. Flowr’s goal is to use its stake in Holigen to position for the European and Australian markets, and Holigen’s goal is to become a leading exporter of cannabis from both locations.
Asterion Cannabis goes big down under
Not to be outdone, Asterion Cannabis is vying for the top cultivator spot with its Australian facility. The Canadian firm is building a $7.6 million Queensland facility capable of producing over 500,000 kilograms of cannabis flower annually.
The Asterion venture is near Toowoomba in southern Queensland and includes a greenhouse and research and development facility. Like many companies, Asterion is looking for a future in the Asian market and will use the international trade route from Australia to Hong Kong to its advantage.
In late January, the company completed a $5 million private placement aimed at funding the massive greenhouse. Asterion specializes in the cultivation of organic medical cannabis using precision agriculture to produce affordable, high quality genetically uniform cannabis strains.
CEO Stephen Van Deventer had previously stated he has no desire to be a small player in the industry, and instead would like to join the ranks of Canada’s biggest players, like Aphria, Aurora, Canopy and Tilray.
Canopy River looks to Italy
Last but not least is the Canopy Rivers (TSX-V:RIV) venture in Italy. The company, which is an investment and operating platform, has invested over $17 million in the Sicilian Canapar project, fueled by a cash infusion from Canopy Growth Corp. (NYSE:CGC). Canopy Growth upped its Canopy River stake to 27.3 percent.
The facility is aiming to produce 600,000 kilograms per year.
Canapar is a unique venture in that it involves a partnership with the Department of Agriculture at the University of Catania. The hemp production facility is focused on creating low-cost organic CBD oil through its outsource farming with local Sicilian farmers.
Of course, all of these projects would be non-starters if there were no cannabis demand, but there is an ever-increasing global demand as sentiments change regarding medical cannabis. More than 30 countries have now approved its use, and even the World Health Organization has called for it to be rescheduled.