Stellenbosch growers send cannabis tissue culture to Israel, a first for South Africa

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  • A farm in Stellenbosch, best known for its strawberries, is now making its mark on the international cannabis market.
  • Felbridge, in addition to exporting cannabis flower, provided much sought-after tissue culture in Europe.
  • Its latest deal, a first for the company and South Africa, saw a shipment of tissue culture cannabis arrive in Israel.
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A Stellenbosch-based cultivator and distributor of medical cannabis has exported tissue culture to Israel, adding to a growing list of firsts for South Africa.

The Zetler surname carries a lot of weight in Stellenbosch. Four generations of farmers in the district have specialized in the production of hydroponic strawberries and peppers. In 2017, the Zetler cannabis company, Felbridge, applied to become a licensed cannabis producer.

Felbridge’s license to grow on 14,000 square meters, granted by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA), was granted less than a year after the landmark Constitutional Court ruling that decriminalized the private and personal use of cannabis. This decision played an important role in setting the roadmap for the commercialization and industrialization of cannabis.

Shortly after obtaining his license, Felbridge exported medical cannabis, grown at his factory in Stellenbosch, to Switzerland.

See also | Inside Cape Town’s New Members-Only Cannabis Club

In addition to supplying dried cannabis flower to global markets, Felbridge has become known, through partnerships with biogenetic companies in Europe, for the production and export of genetically superior cannabis strains in tissue culture form. .

Using advanced breeding technology based on artificial intelligence, Felbridge is able to produce starting material – tissue culture cannabis – that is pathogen-free and of the highest biological quality. These genetic libraries offer cannabinoids with a wide range of characteristics or traits, such as flavor, disease resistance, flower size, and yield to meet the needs of growers.

“Tissue culture is the gold standard for propagation of any plant,” Felbridge’s Barry Zetler told Business Insider South Africa.

“This is done in a sterile environment, resulting in a final tissue free of pathogens, viruses, which can be multiplied and put into production.”

It is this production and supply of researched cannabis tissue cultures that has earned Felbridge and South Africa many firsts. Felbridge has already exported products to Spain, North Macedonia, Switzerland and Lesotho.

The company’s latest deal, in partnership with Perfect Plants in the Netherlands, saw the successful export of a cannabis tissue culture batch to a licensed producer in Israel. Another first for South Africa.

“At Felbridge, with our cloning capability and with an on-site lab, we are well positioned to handle tissue, as well as export out of the facility,” Zetler said.

“It is truly remarkable that we have been able to grow in such a short time and to think that the fabrics propagated in South Africa are supplying licensed producers in Europe and the Middle East is truly impressive.”

Zetler added that Felbridge was planning export deals to new markets across Europe and North America.

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