Dr. Eyal Policar, his son Gahl, his son-in-law Mor Zilberstein (attorney-at -law), Tal Frank, and Lior Bar-On built a cannabis indoor installation – in Moshav Zofar in the Arava. Proud of their product, and equally proud to be creating jobs in their region.
“We opted for indoor growing for our cannabis grow. A completely closed environment allows for total control of all growing conditions – a major advantage over the greenhouse environment found at most medical cannabis farms worldwide. Our control of all the parameters enables a level of consistency that is impossible in greenhouses, where many external factors come into play: temperature, moisture, radiation, and damage from the surrounding area due to pesticide drift and airborne pollutants,” says Gahl Policar, chief of growing operations at CannArava. The company grows and markets its medical cannabis brand from its base at Moshav Tzofar in the central Arava. “Our flagship product is the highly aromatic Sapphire OG cannabis inflorescence. The plants are lovingly hand-tended and each inflorescence contains a precise medical dose of the active ingredients, meeting the most stringent requirements of European standards and our repeat customers in Israel.”
Family business, corporate approach
A family business, the company was established by chairman of the board Dr. Eyal Policar, whose expertise is business entrepreneurship, together with his son-in law Mor Zilberstein, an attorney specializing in regulatory law. Eyal Policar explains that, under the 2016 regulatory reform of the cannabis industry in Israel, cannabis growers, producers and distributors could apply for licensing by the medical cannabis unit of the Ministry of Agriculture. “When the permits finally arrived in 2018,” he explains, “my wife Leaora and I flew to California to visit our son Gahl, who was managing a cannabis farm there. We asked him to come back to Israel and start one here.” Gahl agreed, on one condition: that the enterprise would be innovative and cutting-edge.
Dr. Eyal Policar and Gahl Policar
CannArava, which defines itself as a family enterprise with a corporate approach, set out to provide a uniform and consistent product with identical inflorescences year-round. “We integrated a variety of methods from different agricultural and industrial sources so we could operate the farm with total control of all the parameters,” explains Gahl Policar. “This is a significant challenge because we are dealing with a medical product and yet at the same time we are growing plants, which is not like producing identical capsules in a factory. In our case it is more challenging to ensure that every dose is identical. But when someone buys our product at a pharmacy in Ashdod in the south or Nahariya in the north, they expect to be buying exactly the same product. Meeting that expectation is very important to us.
Serving the community
CannArava is one of the few indoor farms in Israel. “Three years ago when we were starting up, we looked for people to consult with and discovered that there is very little expertise in this field. So we taught ourselves and were continually tweaking the technology,” says Eyal Policar.
CannArava today is the second-largest employer in the central Arava (only the regional government is bigger). Its workforce includes young people just out of the army, as well as longtime local residents. The company also generates regional income and economic growth via local service providers and apartment rentals for workers who come south from the center of the country. Dr. Policar: “The Arava was facing a [Coronavirus-generated employment] crisis and we wanted to show that, with a little determination and maximum ability, you could change the paradigm of accepted agricultural methods here. We anticipate that the authorities will adjust existing laws and regulations that make it so difficult for agricultural enterprises to attract investors for agrobiology and related development. That would enable more farmers to set up innovative businesses here, expanding the scope of employment for the entire region.”
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Eyal Policar Chairman