Irish start-up raises funds to encourage farmers to grow hemp using drones

Greenheart CBD is looking for more farmers at home and abroad to grow hemp

An Irish start-up has just raised $ 5.3million (€ 4.5million) in funding to provide loans to farmers in Ireland and around the world to encourage them to grow hemp for the manufacture of cannabidiol (CBD) products.

Greenheart CBD, based in Co Meath and founded by Paul Walsh and Mark Canavan two years ago, uses drones and artificial intelligence to help maximize cultivation by continuously monitoring plant health.

The company, which has previously obtained a government license to grow hemp with farmers in County Wicklow, has developed a number of organic CBD products for consumers, with full traceability “from seed to shelf. “.

Having recently signed a major distribution contract with Uniphar to distribute its products, the company is now looking to expand its supply chain. She has managed to grow, in retail terms, a $ 12 million crop so far on 10 acres in Ireland, but now she wants to get more hemp, especially in developing countries.

The association of cannabis

Despite the growing popularity of CBD products, many farmers find it difficult to secure funding from banks for hemp production due to its link to cannabis. Greenheart therefore intervenes to lend them directly via smart contracts, which are built on blockchain technology.

to read : Young hemp shoots could be the next superfood in your salads

Farmers basically subscribe to a package that allows them to start growing hemp immediately. In addition to the seeds, they are given a drone and other smart technologies that allow them to produce the purest crop at a decent yield. Greenheart then buys the crop from them.

Drones are used to constantly monitor the health of the crop, and they are equipped with retractable arms that can remove weeds, pluck buds, and more.

“There hasn’t really been a technological evolution in agriculture since the introduction of the tractor, but I think drone technology could change everything,” Walsh said.

A typical loan to a farmer using the business loan model can range from $ 500 to $ 50,000 over five years, with an interest rate of 5%. Greenheart estimates that a farmer in the developing world could make $ 1,500 per year with existing cash crops, but could get $ 2,500 per crop cycle with an acre of CBD crop.

Full traceability

According to Walsh, his model could transform farmers’ livelihoods while allowing the company to access the best quality hemp, while consumers benefit from full traceability of products that are not harmful to the business. the environment.

to read : UK architects build low-carbon house using hemp

“Greenheart CBD is committed to making a difference in today’s world by taking a unique and original approach to helping smallholders break out of the poverty trap,” said Liam Robertson, CEO of Alphabit Fund, who led the $ 5.3 million fundraiser.

The company will soon publicly launch the Greenheart Punt, a digital token that can be bought and sold. The 5.3 million euros collected come from investors who have purchased some of these tokens, the others to be made more widely available soon. One punt is equivalent to $ 0.10 and 150 million tokens have been minted in total.

Token holders will be able to use them to access Greenheart products at a significant discount. The money raised through the punt will also help the company finance the purchase of new land for CBD production, and build a hulling plant to allow expansion into other product lines, including materials. insulation and bio-plastics.

Greenheart is already profitable and has secured over 2,500 customers since launching in January 2020.

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