© Gediminas Petrikas
Discover the benefits of cultivating hemp in the fertile Klaipeda district.
Medical Cannabis Network spoke with CEO Gediminas Petrikas to discuss the opportunities Lithuania presents, why it is an ideal base for growing hemp and how Baltic CBD adhere to the highest possible standards.
Can you tell us a little about Baltic CBD and what sets the company apart?
Baltic CBD is a Lithuanian company engaged in the cultivation of industrial hemp and producing hemp flower biomass for extraction of various cannabinoids and was one of the first local hemp growers to produce hemp flower biomass for extraction of Cannabidiol (CBD). Today we are one of the biggest producers in Lithuania.
We consider ourselves to be the basis of the industry because this is where everything starts. We do all the hard work cultivating, harvesting and processing hemp flower biomass and we do it with dedication and scientific approach so the CBD industry in Europe would get a primary product of the best quality.
We execute all our processes at our fully-integrated, large scale facilities in Klaipeda district, Lithuania with an ideal geographic location, scalable to 800 hectares of cultivation land and 7300 square metres of production equipment and the perfect conditions for production carried out in three key phases; cultivation, harvesting and post-harvest hemp flower preparation for CBD extraction. We strive for excellence in every step of our production phases.
Baltic CBD strictly do not use any pesticides, herbicides or other chemicals in any stage of cultivation phase, therefore, we conform with the rules applied for organically grown hemp. From the 2020 season we will be completely certified organic hemp farm.
Baltic CBD exclusively uses EU certified organic seeds from certified suppliers and partners in France to get the best harvesting results and high quality end products. Our research and development team alongside Vytautas Magnus University Agriculture Academy and Kaunas University of Technology is currently undertaking research and development projects. This ensures Baltic CBD optimises processes and reduces costs in the production of its products.
Harvesting and post-harvest processes such as drying, separation and packaging are executed especially meticulously in order to obtain a product of the highest quality. We devote to these processes a special attention and we are in control of every step.
For harvesting we use UK and Lithuanian engineers’ developed harvesters, which harvest only the hemp flowers which allows us to process a much cleaner product. For drying we use our state of the art continuous cycle custom made belt dryer from a premium German manufacturer Heinen. It is a large scale plant consuming 600 kw of electrical power and capable of drying 120 tonnes a day of freshly harvested hemp flowers. To supply the drying plant with a heat carrier, we had to install a boiler room with a heating output range of 8 mw, which we acquired from a decommissioned German nuclear power plant.
For seeds and stalks separation processes we use Lithuanian engineers’ developed equipment, which ensures that our CBD biomass is of an exceptional purity, without seeds and stalks, up to 2 mm in fraction.
Packaging is always a subject to the individual customer’s needs and requirements. We are flexible and able to pack the final product into bags from five to 500 kg.
Being first in the chain of supply with a primary raw material, we believe we are responsible for the whole industry and of course the end consumers. We devote much attention to our production processes because we are certain that by producing a quality primary product we create added value for our customers and for the whole industry.
However, what truly sets us apart is that we are extremely flexible in every aspect of our production. We work closely with our customers and fulfill all their requirements and demands. We can adapt our production processes to our customers needs starting from cultivation and all further production phases.
We are able to cultivate any variety of hemp preferred by our customers. They can be involved in every aspect of cultivation, harvesting and post-harvest procedures. We can adapt our post-harvest production plant, so the final product fully meets their requirements.
Another advantage is that we operate large scale production facilities. If required, we can process vast amounts of hemp CBD biomass.
What are the advantages of being based in Lithuania?
Lithuania is a country with a strong pedigree in agriculture. Hemp has been cultivated in Lithuania since the 16th century and was the most appreciated and valued plant. Our soil and climate are perfectly suited to growing hemp.
In 2013 Lithuania adopted an Industrial Hemp Law, after which hemp began experiencing a renaissance. Lithuania has about 2.5 million hectares of fertile soil for agriculture and in 2019 there were 9.182 hectares of hemp cultivated in Lithuania. This cements Lithuania as the second largest hemp growing country in the EU.
Baltic CBD’s fields are situated on the side lands close to the Baltic Sea where the marine winds and moisture result in an exceptional hemp harvest; Baltic hemp is rich in cannabinoids and unique in purity.
Lithuanians are extremely hardworking and creative with brilliant engineering knowledge, therefore, most of Baltic CBD‘s harvesting and post-harvest equipment is created and produced locally. Innovation is at the heart of everything we do and our custom engineering solutions make it possible to significantly increase the amount of hemp CBD biomass produced each year. In 2019 we cultivated 400 hectares of hemp and produced 200 tonnes of hemp flower biomass for CBD extraction.
Another advantage being based in Lithuania is its very strong scientific base – we have at least three strong universities in Lithuania working with every aspect of hemp production.
What challenges have you faced and overcome so far?
The main challenge remains the short-sightedness of the authorities of Lithuania. When the rest of the world is putting CBD into consumables and has already opened or is getting ready to open their doors for cultivating medical cannabis, here in Lithuania we are still discussing whether or not to allow businesses to fully exploit hemp and produce high valued CBD consumables – despite Lithuania being the second largest hemp grower in the EU.
What kind of end products can we expect from your crop and when do you anticipate these will be available?
For now, we are producing hemp flower biomass suitable for CBD extraction as unfortunately this is all that can be done with the hemp flower in Lithuania for now. If appropriate amendments to legislation surrounding CBD were to be adopted, we could exploit other possibilities and work further with hemp flower and produce CBD consumables.
From the 2020 season we will additionally commence processing organic hemp seeds and all of the products relating to from them such as organic hulled hemp seeds, organic hemp seed oil and organic hemp seed protein.
Are there any opportunities for strategic partnerships and investment in Baltic CBD?
Baltic CBD is always looking for strategic partnerships, especially in the fields of cultivation. We believe that everything originates from the soil and being strong in the cultivation stage now will enable us to produce better products in the future.
We also believe that the Lithuanian government will eventually follow the example of other countries and develop terms which will allow Lithuanian businesses to fully exploit the benefits of hemp. Meanwhile, we are preparing for that moment and would welcome strategic partnerships in the industry, particularly the extraction and development of high value CBD products.