After the COVID-19 pandemic sparked a decline in Ecuador’s flower sales, the nation’s farmers have turned to hemp as a new crop to make ends meet.
Ecuador’s total flower exports decreased by 8% last year, according to a Reuters report, and rose farmers are now planting hemp, which Ecuador law defines as cannabis containing less than 1% THC.
"The project was born from hard times," Klaus Graetzer, floriculture manager of Boutique Flowers and president of hemp startup CannAndes, told Reuters. Boutique Flowers, located in Tabacundo, constructed greenhouses for hemp production after cutting rose production by 37.5% in 2020. "In the pandemic, the flower industry was hit hard. We saw the chance to take advantage of this new regulation."
Felipe Norton, CannAndes’ manager, told Reuters that the company plans to export smokable CBD flower to Switzerland, which he said is the largest market for hemp flower. CannAndes is also seeking federal licenses to sell CBD products in Ecuador, according to the news outlet.
Ecuador legalized hemp production, as well as hemp imports and exports, in 2019, and the Agriculture Ministry has since approved 46 10-year licenses for businesses operating in the hemp market, Reuters reported.