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RAISING THE BAR FOR AFRICAN CANNABIS CULTIVATIONMark CorbettTo be recognised as a world-class producer of cannabis, you need to demonstrate that your cultivation and production process meets the highest quality standards”, explains Mark Corbett, Managing Director of Highlands Investments.Highlands Investments is one of Africa’s largest licensed cannabis cultivators. Highlands cultivates high-quality THC and CBD cannabis flower for the production of medical-grade cannabis products at its state-of-the-art facility in Kolojane in Lesotho, which was designed and constructed according to international best practice principles.
The company, which was granted a licence to cultivate, manufacture, supply, import and export medical cannabis products in 2017, completed its fourth successful harvest in April 2021. It’s one thing to grow cannabis successfully, and another to build a legitimate, trusted business. But how do African cannabis companies gain legitimacy in this new, rapidly evolving global industry? “As a business we have worked hard to anticipate requirements; not only of regulators, but also of partners, retailers, suppliers and investors and of course consumers. We want to ensure that anyone, anywhere that engages with Highlands or our products assured of our quality standards”, says Corbett.
“This has become even more important during the Covid-19 pandemic, as there has been limited opportunity to invite stakeholders to visit the Highlands facility in person for them to be assured of our quality processes and procedures”, he adds. After careful consideration, the company embarked on ISO22000 certification in 2020. As part of the ISO 22000 certification process, the company has to go through a series of audits, the second of which took place on site on 24 and 25 May 2021. All reports will be closed off 30 days after this on site audit, leading to the issuing of the certification. The standard specifies the requirements for a comprehensive food management system, as well as incorporating the elements of Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) and Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP). The standard can be used by all organisations in the supply chain from farming, processing, transportation and storage to packaging and retail. “Yes, we have always been committed to excellent standards, but with ISO22000 we can ensure that there is no room for error, and easily communicate this commitment to everyone we engage with,” explains Corbett. Set by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) and checked by an official and authorised agency, ISO 22000 creates a single food safety standard that harmonises the various national standards into one easy-to-understand set of requirements that are simple to apply and recognised around the world.
“ISO 22000 maps out what an organisation needs to do to ensure that the product it produces is safe. It covers all the processes in the value chain that impact the safety of the end product including the management of systems, personnel, internal and external communication and hygiene principles,” explains Corbett. “With ISO 22000 certification, Highlands Investments is leading the way, not just for Africa, but globally in terms of its commitment to safety and quality management. This is exciting news for the African cannabis industry, and ultimately for our most important stakeholders, the consumers of the end-cannabis product, wherever in the world they may be,” concludes Corbett.