Tough Slogging for Hemp in Moldova

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Moldovan bio-farming firm BioEM Technology is leading a second effort to plant certified hemp in 2017 after its application to import certified seed in 2016 was summarily rejected by government officials.

“Even though we have an adopted government decision from Dec. 07, 2011 that clearly sets out a legal way to import seed and grow hemp in Moldova, the government gave us a totally illogical justification for rejecting our project,” BioEm’s CEO Alex Bratutel told HempToday.

Despite being one of the poorest countries in Europe, Moldova has a moderate climate conducive to hemp cultivation along with productive farmland. In an economy highly dependent on farming, Bratutel said hemp could considerably boost the agriculture sector.

‘Chance for profits & jobs’

“We see hemp as a chance for new profits and jobs because we see how big the world market demand for hemp in all its component parts is growing,” said Bratutel, noting current global demand for everything from hemp fibers for plastics used in the auto industry to pharmaceuticals, food and nutrition.

With a GDP at just €5.8 billion, Moldova had strong economic growth in 2014 due to increased farm production brought on by farming policy changes and preferential trading terms with the EU that started in 2009. But the economy stagnated in 2015 in part due to a nearly €1 billion asset stripping bank heist. And the country is highly dependent on Moldovans living and working abroad who send as much as €1 billion home each year. Finally. Along with broad and lingering corruption, a Russian import ban on Moldova’s agricultural products has also hampered economic development.

Historic ties to Romania

A part of historic hemp powerhouse Romania up until 1939, Moldova has a tradition for using hemp in textiles, nutrition and medicine, Bratutel noted — but it’s a history that’s all but forgotten. “The current generation, including our authorities, know absolutely nothing about hemp,” he said.

Tapping into Romanian connections, Bio-EM worked with researchers at Romania’s Research Station for Agricultural Development (SCDA) to learn about Romanian-developed Zenit, Dacia and other low THC seed breeds. Last year the company presented authorities in Moldova’s ministries of Agriculture, Internal Affairs, and Public Health with all certificates necessary to import the Zenit cultivar last year but their import application was denied.

Potential Euro investors

Despite that setback, Bratutel is determined to make the effort again. “We’d like to avoid unreasonable polemics with our authorities,” Bratutel said. “We focus on legal and commercial reasons why hemp will be good for Moldova”, he added, noting Bio-EM is gathering information that will boost its case for hemp growing.

Bio-EM is ready to plant at least 500 ha of hemp, he said, noting that at least one major European hemp firm has expressed interest in a farming-and-processing partnership.

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