Hemp seed as an alternative to corn to feed shrimp
One of the last Latin American countries to legalize low-THC cannabis, Ecuador, is seeking to use hemp seed as a cheaper alternative to corn for its large shrimp industry.
Ecuador is the leader in shrimp production in South America and a major player on the world stage, but corn prices are high and fewer farmers are ready to plant it, preferring more profitable products like cocoa. , according to a March report from the Foreign Agricultural Service of the US Department of Agriculture.
In 2019, Ecuador became the top exporter of shrimp, with 56% of exports going to China, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Ecuador produced 600 tonnes of shrimp in 000, and the industry was on the rise heading into 2019, until COVID-2020 stopped production.
With the high prices of maize and the Ecuadorian wheat industry entirely dependent on imports, "feed producers are increasingly experimenting and using other alternatives to maize, such as the rice by-products that are available. on the domestic market and imported distillers' grains with solubles, ”according to the Foreign Agricultural Service report in March.
The United States and other countries view CBD as the biggest livelihood today. But Ecuador sees industrial hemp as a better long-term economic benefit, said Andrés Luque, head of cannabis regulation at Ecuador's agriculture ministry.
“Our long-term vision, as a ministry of agriculture, is to develop the industrial hemp industry,” Luque said in an interview.https://hempindustrydaily.com/ecuador-eyes-hemp-grain-to-replace-corn-in-feed-for-shrimp/
Ecuador legalized medical cannabis and low-THC hemp late last year, and officials are drafting the regulations, which are expected to be in place in the coming weeks.
"It shows that we are learning in this industry that there is so much more than the plant ... and how it can fit into all of these different countries and all of these different industries around the world," said Eric Singular, a specialist. industrial hemp from Denver-based consulting firm Gateway Proven Strategies.
Like other equatorial countries, Ecuador faces the challenge of finding varieties of industrial hemp that can thrive in a 12-hour cycle of daylight throughout the year. Most of the industrial hemp varieties planted around the world today have been bred in the northern hemisphere and do not perform very well in the tropics.
Colombia, which legalized cannabis and medical hemp with less than 1% THC four years ago, has been working on breeding such a cultivar since then, and some companies say they are approaching it. Ecuador will rely on these seeds.
It's not clear how much hemp seed would benefit shrimp, but Singular has heard of people in Colorado who have used the hemp seed to feed livestock and "the results are noticeable quite quickly."
"What they are finding is that the animals eat less, but gain weight either at the same rate as eating other grains, or even more weight," Singular said. “And this is because the nature of the hemp seed is so high in protein and so dense in nutrients. "
Replacement of sugar cane?
Luque said the land the country used to grow sugarcane is flat and extensive and "can be processed quite well for industrial hemp."
“Almost nobody consumes sugar anymore, so the prices are bad,” Luque said.
Ecuador's focus on grains for shrimp doesn't mean the country is ignoring the CBD craze in the United States. But Mr Luque said there is a lot of risk in this market - and a lot of competition - in CBD, and the government prefers to leave this area to private investors.
“We had times when public money was used to fund private projects that promised to be the next shrimp industry,” he said, recalling that about 20 years ago, the government publicly funded a project to farm sweet lobsters. Nothing came of it.
We believe that public funds should not finance these projects - CBD first and foremost, ”said Luque. When Ecuador has a cultivar capable of surviving a 12-hour day cycle and good for fiber and grains, then the government will consider subsidizing its hemp industry.
Honestly, for us at the ministry, industrial hemp is the horse we are betting on in the long term, ”he said.