LEVERAGING SUSTAINABILITY

Colombia 2019 | HEALTH | INTERVIEW

GHC is a robust local cannabis sector player utilizing sustainable agricultural production, convinced that its growth is directly linked with the growth of the surrounding environment and communities.

Eduardo Mayorga
BIOGRAPHY
Eduardo Mayorga has more than 15 years of experience in management, strategic planning, and project development. He has been leading human resources processes in several organizations across the infrastructure, energy, mining, banking, real estate, and services sectors. He holds management degrees from Universidad Externado, Universidad de los Andes, and Universidad del Rosario.

How did the company evolve to where it is today?
GHC was formally founded in 2017 as a result of the initiative of a team of Santanderians that saw an opportunity in the medical cannabis market. We started the project's pre-feasibility phase with our own capital, obtained the licenses required by the different ministries, and complied with the legal and technical procedures of entities like Colombian Institute of Agriculture (ICA) and National Narcotics Fund (FNE). Thereafter, we designed and built our pilot automated greenhouse with innovative local engineering. Aiming to consolidate the project with investment and transfer of knowledge after evaluating different options with companies in Australia and Canada, we decided that partnering with Canada-based Cannaverde Pharma was aligned to our strategy and business philosophy. At present, we have a strong competent team with national and foreign talent that adds value to each of our processes. We are finishing the construction of 17,100sqm for production greenhouses and 2,000sqm for mother plants and the agronomic evaluation. We have the finances to advance the development for next stages.

What are the advantages of being located in Santander?
In Santander, we have the environmental, social, legal, academic, and scientific conditions to develop the medical cannabis cluster. GHC incorporates the regional strategy for leading the local cannabis sector through a sustainable agricultural production, including extraction and refining processes and investment in R&D to develop innovative products.

How are you working to ensure the sector develops in a sustainable and responsible manner?
The advantage of being pioneers of the sector in Santander is that we can build the columns for the industry with a sustainable consciousness. We are generating formal employment that directly benefits local communities and impacts the local economy. We promote transfer of knowledge by providing alternatives to develop several key skills. We are convinced that, if the environment and community grow positively, our organization will follow suit. Our processes are resourcefully designed to be environmentally friendly. At GHC, we collect rainwater for irrigation within a controlled system; we only use organic fertilizers and we do not use pesticides. Moreover, we use the biomass left over from the extraction process as compost for our crops.

How is GHC making a difference in the sector?
One of our key pillars is research and development processes. Medical cannabis has great potential, but it must be formally explored and developed. We have human talent specialized in each part of the process, seeking best practices and generating knowledge. We are working on consolidating cooperation agreements with important universities, like Universidad Industrial de Santander and Universidad Nacional de Colombia's Institute of Biotechnology. Another key pillar is our corporate culture; we are fortunate to have a competent, passionate, and integrated team that gives its best every day.

How do you perceive the cannabis market, and what potential do you see in Colombia and globally?
According to Euromonitor International, at present, the cannabis industry is valued at USD12 billion, and by 2025 the sector is predicted to grow by 1,283% and reach USD166 billion in value. The medical cannabis legislation in Colombia covers all legal and technical features, making it a benchmark for regional countries looking to enter the sector. Colombia's medical cannabis sector has a great opportunity to become the leading exporter of high-value cannabis-based products and represent 0.5% of the country's GDP, equal to bananas and flowers exports together.

Which products have the most potential for GHC?
The most popular and studied components of cannabis are CBD, which provides therapeutic benefits, and THC, the psychoactive component that has its own unique medical properties. However, there are more compounds that are released in the extraction process like terpenoids and flavonoids, which, among others, give the aromatic features to the plant and have anti-inflammatory and antibiotic properties that have not yet been studied deeply, opening a whole new range of opportunities.