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Laura Carvalho, Belvedere Pharma Group:

“The Portuguese sunshine leads to a greater production of cannabinoids and other metabolites”

“We are located in Alentejo, Portugal, an area with a Mediterranean climate, where our product is sun-grown outside. Due to the great local climate with lots of sunshine, we have a greater production of cannabinoids and other metabolites, including terpenes,” explains Laura Carvalho, Technical & Quality Director at Belvedere Pharma Group. The Portuguese company grows pharmaceutical cannabis, with their production encompassing 3 hectares of outdoor production and a 1-hectare greenhouse. To achieve the high-quality standards that are necessary for pharmaceutical cannabis, Belvedere Pharma has implemented several measures, such as soil and water analysis. “We also use the GemmaCert device to easily and quickly quantify the cannabinoid content of our flowers.”

Growing outdoors and organically
Laura explains that Belvedere Pharma is certified by Kiwa Sativa, a company that monitors biological and organic cultivation. “Some of the practices implemented to grow our cannabis outdoors and organically are the utilization of vegan substrate and fertilizers, composting, the use of aromatic plants to prevent insect pests and to detect those pests, and an IPM program.” Luckily, the climate in Alentejo is perfect for growing cannabis outdoors. “This area of Portugal has a Mediterranean climate. During the summer, the weather is hot and dry, with temperatures between 14°C and 40°C. Under the summer sunshine, we receive a large photosynthetic load that provides a greater production of cannabinoids and other metabolites, including terpenes. We are proud that our product is sun-grown and of a high organoleptic quality.”

Of course, it is not an easy feat to produce cannabis that achieves pharmaceutical standards. “Therefore, we have implemented several measures to ensure that our production is up to those standards,” Laura says. “For example, we do soil analysis, monitor our water and use personal protective equipment when in the field. We also strictly clean and disinfect our materials used in cultivation, control the fertilizers, and closely monitor pests, diseases, and deficiencies.”

Another important aspect is, of course, the cannabinoid content. “We purchased the GemmaCert device because we needed a device that could easily and quickly quantify the cannabinoid content of our flowers. We use it with the dried and crushed flower, using small samples to test. We have found that this gives us great results in terms of reproducibility. In addition to determining our cannabinoid content, we can also test the water activity, which is a great asset. Overall, it has been a much easier and cheaper way for us to analyze samples.”

The Portuguese market
According to Laura, the Portuguese medical cannabis market is very interesting. “In terms of sales, Portugal is currently among the smallest markets in the EU with a just a dozen kilos sold until this day. One of the reasons is the lack of choice in products, with just flower being sold in the pharmacies, which is not what all patients prefer.” But Laura thinks that a strong industry is developing in front of us. “Portugal has many experienced players going from associations to Infarmed, setting the requirements to create qualified workers for the cannabis companies. The collaboration between those players is bringing together top producers and manufacturers. This aspect will definitively promote Portugal’s position as a big player in the cannabis industry internationally,” Laura says.

For more information:
Belvedere Pharma Group 



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