Medicinal Crops

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Case for change

Legislation has recently been passed in Australia to allow medicinal crops production, and expansion of the hemp and poppy industries. These sectors are required to adhere to state and federal regulations where appropriate, and producers and their staff are required to be aware of, and follow, these legislative obligations.

Industry consultation has identified the need for new, specialist skills training in growing and harvesting crops, security, understanding and implementing compliance, and government regulation.

The Australian Industry Skills Committee (AISC) approved this project, out of the 2018-2021 IRC Skills Forecast and Proposed Schedule of Work (see pages 61-62).

Skills Impact and the Agriculture and Production Horticulture Industry Reference Committee (IRC) will manage this project, consistent with the 2012 Standards for Training Package Development.

Download Project Proposal (see pages 61-62)

Project Plan

Medicinal crops are a rapidly growing industry in many countries around the world. New legislation in Australia has allowed the production of medicinal cannabis, which, in addition to the expanding poppy crops, has led to growth in the medicinal crop industry.

Medicinal cannabis is now recognised as a natural and effective medicine to treat numerous symptoms and medical conditions. Opium Poppies have long been used as a source for pain relief in pharmaceuticals.

As a result, new skills are emerging for growing and harvesting the crops, maintaining their security, and for understanding and implementing compliance and government regulations.

Poppies and cannabis are high value crops. The domestic market for medicinal cannabis is worth an estimated $100 million per year (University of Sydney Business School). Product consistency and quality are key to its continuing development.

Different strains of the plant are also grown for different medicinal purposes, which requires specific skills for monitoring sampling and testing. As described by Adam Benjamin from MEDIFARM. “Someone might have chronic pain; another patient might have multiple sclerosis. We have all these receptors in our body that can work with the hundreds of different medical cannabis plant strains. In our case we have exclusive genetics. So, we don’t mix and match. One part of the greenhouse will be growing for children with epilepsy, a different plant will be growing for chronic pain”

Project Scope

National units of competency will be developed that include the skills and knowledge required to grow medicinal cannabis and poppies in Australia.

 

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Relevant Occupations

Farm worker, greenhouse worker, farm manager, rural agribusiness manager, crop production manager, harvesting operator.

Skilled activities
  • Protected cropping
  • Broadacre cropping
  • Crop preparation and establishment, monitoring (irrigation, fertilising, pest management, harvestability, drainage, sampling and testing), harvesting and post-harvest management
  • Working within industry-based regulatory frameworks and understanding legal requirements and responsibilities
Timeline

Jun – Aug 2019
Initial scoping

Aug – Sept 2019
Development of draft qualifications, skill sets and units

Oct 2019
Drafts available for broad consultation

Feb 2020
Validation of final drafts

Mar – Jun 2020
Finalisation of Training Package components

June 2020
Submission for endorsement

Project Team
Ruth Geldard Industry Skills Standards Specialist, Skills Impact rgeldard@skillsimpact.com.au
Andrew Horgan Industry Engagement Manager, Skills Impact andrew@skillsimpact.com.au
Lina Robinson Skills Development Specialist
Opportunities for Stakeholder Input

Stakeholder input is appreciated throughout the duration of this project. Units of competency will be drafted in consultation with Subject Matter Experts and their networks. Opportunities to provide targeted feedback will occur when the draft materials are made available in October 2019, and again for validation of final drafts in February 2019. However, your feedback is welcomed at any time, and will help us in drafting the units. It is important that training provides a skilled and flexible workforce for the future. The units need to reflect real work experience. So, if you work in the sector, Skills Impact would love your input and help. Please feel free to register your interest for project updates and consultation opportunities by following the newsletter subscription link below. Alternatively, please feel free to contact the project manager, Ruth Geldard on 03 9321 3526 or rgeldard@skillsimpact.com.au.

Stakeholder Consultation Process

A list of key stakeholder organisations has been identified for this project. Skills Impact will ensure contact is made with each of these organisations during the development of this project to seek their involvement and their views on the draft qualifications, skill sets and units.

If you are aware of an organisation that you think should be involved, please contact the project team to ensure they are contacted by us.

Of course, all and any interested industry participants are encouraged to engage in the consultation of this project, when the draft qualifications, skill sets and units are available for feedback via this webpage and workshops that take place around Australia. Consultation is not limited to the organisations on this list. This list simply helps us to identify those organisations that, because of their industry role, size or specialty, are likely to have a key interest in the development and outcomes of this project.

Development

Medicinal crops are becoming more common in Australia, with the introduction of new legislation allowing the production of cannabis for medical purposes. Combined with the longstanding use of opium poppies in pain relief, there is a demand for skills in growing plants for medicinal purposes. The specialist knowledge required for medicinal cropping relates to the need for these crops to be highly regulated, and their value in terms of a pharmaceutical agent.

As part of this project, work is now underway to develop nationally recognised qualifications, skill sets and units of competency for the medicinal cropping sector.

In August, a workshop was held with subject matter experts and industry stakeholders who work directly in the cultivation and production of medicinal crops. This meeting identified the need for new, specialist skills training for: growing and harvesting medicinal cannabis, security, understanding and implementing compliance and government regulation.  At the meeting, it was recognised that cultivation and production of broadacre crops, such as poppies and hemp, are covered by existing training components related to Production Horticulture.

Consultation with industry experts in the medicinal cannabis sector has identified a requirement for the development of three new qualifications and up to 14 new units of competency to support the following job roles and meet the skill and knowledge requirements for the rapidly expanding workforce.

  • Cultivation/Grower assistants – Certificate Level II
  • Cultivation Supervisors/technical experts – Certificate Level III
  • Head Grower/Facility Manager – Certificate Level IV

Consultation Workshops – Registrations Open!

The draft qualifications and units will be made available on this webpage for broad stakeholder consultation and feedback during October (under the ‘Drafts Available’ menu above). We welcome your feedback and advice on the draft skills standards in this time. Face-to-face consultation workshops will also take place, with a webinar planned for those unable to attend in person. Registrations for these workshops are now open. Register for a workshop near you by clicking the corresponding link.

Face-to-face consultation workshops

Tuesday 8 October, 10am to 12.30pm AEST Brisbane – register here

Wednesday 9 October, 10am to 12.30pm AEST Sydney – register here

Thursday 10 October, 10am to 12.30pm AEST Launceston – register here

Tuesday 15 October, 10am to 12.30pm AEST Melbourne – register here

Thursday 17 October, 10am to 12.30pm ACST Adelaide – register here

Tuesday 22 October, 10am to 12.30pm AWST Perth – register here

Consultation webinar

Thursday 24 October, 10am to 12.00pm AEST – webinar – register here

Proposed qualification and units for development and review

Proposed new qualifications
  • Certificate II in Medicinal Cannabis Cultivation and Production
  • Certificate III in Medicinal Cannabis Cultivation and Production
  • Certificate IV in Medicinal Cannabis Cultivation and Production
Proposed new units of competency
  • AHCMDC201 Apply security regulatory requirements for the medicinal cannabis industry
  • AHCMDC202 Assist with propagation of medicinal cannabis
  • AHCMDC203 Assist with maintenance of medicinal cannabis plants
  • AHCMDC204 Assist with harvesting of medicinal cannabis
  • AHCMDC301 Apply regulatory requirements to the production of medicinal
  • AHCMDC302 Propagate medicinal cannabis
  • AHCMDC303 Maintain medicinal cannabis
  • AHCMDC304 Harvest medicinal cannabis
  • AHCMDC401 Apply security measures for a medicinal cannabis site
  • AHCMDC402 Monitor regulatory requirements for the production of medicinal cannabis
  • AHCMDC403 Implement medicinal cannabis propagation program
  • AHCMDC404 Implement medicinal cannabis maintenance program
  • AHCMDC405 Implement medicinal cannabis harvesting program

Register your interest in the project

Subscribe to the Skills Impact newsletter to keep informed about project updates and opportunities to provide input and feedback. Make sure to select ‘Agriculture, Horticulture, Conservation & Land Management’ as your industry of interest.

 

Drafts Available

This stage has not yet commenced

Validation

This stage has not yet commenced

Finalisation

This stage has not yet commenced