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Georgia: Imereti Greenery responds to growing demand for greenhouse produce

After successfully growing and marketing the hydroponic lettuce from their 4,000 m2 production facility that opened this year, Imereti Greenery LLC from Samtredia Georgia will soon expand their offerings with an additional 1,6 hectare greenhouse. Havecon and Patron Agri are currently working hard to complete the expansion, and the start of the production is slated for April 2016.

The existing greenhouse is expanded with an 1.6 structure. As you can see, Imereti Greenery is located in an urbanized area.

According to Dirk Aleven, the Georgians are crying out for quality greenhouse vegetables. The founder of FoodVentures and one of the investors behind Imereti Greenery explained that they have developed a stable customer base over the past year. "In February we started to produce the first hydroponic lettuce in our state of the art glasshouse. In the beginning we had trouble marketing our produce; after experiencing difficulties with several distributors, we soon decided that we would try to start selling the produce ourselves directly. Since then we have established very good relationships with local restaurants and retailers. They choose us for quality and stable supply."

Last year, Imereti Greenery was the first to introduce living lettuce in Georgia. This was a complete new concept for many retailers, explained Aleven. "But we have convinced them of the added value and since then its marketed as a premium product over here at Carrefour and local supermarkets. In spring we are competing with a lot of open field lettuce that is produced locally as well, but many of our customers realize the added benefit of having a stable supply of consistent quality year-round, hence we are the preferred supplier."

The year-round demand from their customers, was the trigger for Imereti Greenery to increase its operations and expand its offerings. "We decided to expand our greenhouses with an additional 1,6 hectares, which is currently being built by Dutch greenhouse builder Havecon. Patron Agri is responsible for all the technical installations. The entire project is supervised by FoodVentures’ experts together with our Ukrainian partner. We hope to plant the first crops in April 2016."

The new greenhouse will be used for multiple types of crops. "We will have a section with cucumbers, eggplants and bell peppers. Additionally we might introduce some tomato crops as well, as our customers are demanding more products."

Dirk Aleven and head grower/consultant, Dick de Jong of Foodventures with the fresh harvest.

Aleven is not worried that the market will be saturated. "Right now we are the only year-round producer that operates with a high tech greenhouse, and we can distinguish ourselves with our quality and taste. As our customers demand more safely produced vegetables than we can grow at the moment, the situation in good. Especially during the hot summers, when open field growers are experiencing difficulties with producing vegetables during the harsh Georgian summer climate. A controlled environment is the only option then."

Recently, the growers of Foodventures / Imereti Greenery were rewarded for their pioneering efforts to establish greenhouse production in the country. “The Georgian Ministry of Agriculture presented us with the Farmer of 2015 prize, a very prestigious award as a result of our work for the development of Georgian agriculture. Over the past few years many have visited our operations and were impressed by the technology and knowledge that we used to achieve a perfect product.”

Want to learn more about FoodVentures? Have a look at their corporate video:

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