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Putting the possibilities of special plant cultivation and processing into practice

Processing plant-based raw materials into health products, natural cosmetics and even medicines is big business worldwide. In central or southern Europe, for example, individual companies can have a turnover of hundreds of millions of euros, whereas in Finland the turnover of the entire sector has been between 500 - 700 million euros. Some of the main obstacles to growth and the creation of new companies include adequate supply of raw materials, verification of raw material and product quality, especially for exports, and inadequate knowledge and skills in relation to transformation processes.

The cultivation and processing of special plants could create jobs in Central Ostrobothnia too, if more information on processing was available, such as various extraction and drying processes as well as freeze drying. Growers in Central Ostrobothnia are interested in possibilities for processing special plants, including by drying and extraction, but the growers’ own resources and skills are not currently sufficient to develop the sector and they need external assistance and knowledge to accelerate their business.

Centria University of Applied Sciences, together with co-promoter KPEdu, responded to this need by launching a project in November 2021entitled New possibilities for further processing and export of plant-based raw materials in Central Ostrobothnia. The project comprises a review of the global market situation and the export potential of special plants and a study of the possibilities for mechanising the cultivation and pre-treating of special plants. Extraction and drying processes will be optimised for selected plant raw materials and quality verification processes will be developed.

A pilot-scale freeze dryer will be acquired for KPEdu’s food premises in Kokkola so that companies can test freeze drying of their own raw materials in practice.

“All the project tasks will produce valuable information for planning the expansion and further processing of special plant cultivation”, say Jenni Kentala and Kimmo Kentala, respectively leader and founder member of the N63Herbs co-operative. Rural officer Jussi Karhulahti comments: “For growers and entrepreneurs, the project will generate information on how special plant cultivation should be expanded in Central Ostrobothnia and how best to process special plants locally”.

The project began in November 2021 and will last until the end of August 2023. The project is being financed by the Regional Council of Central Ostrobothnia and the EU’s Sustainable growth and jobs 2014 - 2020 structural funds programme for Finland as well as Kaustinen sub-region, Kokkola, Kannus and Perho, and has a budget of 416,316 euros.

Further information:

Centria University of Applied Sciences
Project leader Leena Favén
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