Researchers in Argentina testing 15 hemp grain, fiber varieties

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Argentina is moving beyond the hemp flower, with 15 grain and fiber varieties now undergoing evaluation for inclusion in the country’s official seed catalog.

Buenos Aires-based Industrial Hemp Solutions (IHS) said it is working with a research team from the Faculty of Agronomy of the University of Buenos Aires (FAUBA) on the cultivation seed trials. If all are approved, it would more than double the number of hemp varieties available to Argentina’s farmers, who are limited to just 13 now – most of which are for cannabinoid production.

‘Important step’

“The entry of these new varieties of hemp genetics is an important step for the development of this industry in our country,” said Diana Guillén, president of the National Agrifood Health and Quality Service (SENASA), which is backing the trials.

The government is advancing a whole-plant strategy for hemp that aims to exploit the crop for its health and environmental benefits in addition to its potential for economic development. Stakeholders see markets in hempseed as a superfood, and have suggested that Argentina could produce oils, flours and proteins from hemp grain. Fiber markets for construction materials, textiles, cellulose and bioplastics can also be exploited, authorities have said.

Quality & safety

SENASA, which is responsible for regulation and certification of products of animal and plant origin, is “working to ensure the development of the hemp industry in compliance with the quality and safety standards established for its production and marketing,” the agency said. 

“The introduction of these new varieties through the IHS company is an excellent opportunity to strengthen the industry, guaranteeing the quality and safety of the crops,” said Gabriel Giménez, national director of the National Institute of Seeds (INASE), which facilitated the import of the test seeds.

A team led by Daniel Sorlino, coordinator of the Cannabis Study and Work Group and member of the Chair of Industrial Crops at FAUBA, has been carrying out the evaluation of the 15 varieties since September 2022.

Serious about hemp

Argentina in January officially launched an agency in support of industrial hemp and medical cannabis, the latest in a string of key moves that show the government is serious about developing the industries. That announcement came shortly after the Ministry of Science declared its intention to invest more than $106 million in 13 research and development projects in hemp and cannabis across six provinces.

And the government last October created a technology company aimed at advancing the industrial hemp and medical cannabis sectors, which it has estimated could generate 10,000 new jobs, $500 million in domestic sales and $50 million in exports annually.

“The potential of the Argentine bioeconomy is enormous, and in this context, hemp is positioned as a synonym for development and progress,” said Maximiliano Baranoff, director of Innovation and New Businesses at Industrial Hemp Solutions.

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