The second phase of the greenhouse complex Orbita-Agro has been launched. Formally, it started operating in October already, but the governor of Kaliningrad, Anton Alikhanov, cut the ribbon only recently.
The construction of the second phase with an acreage of 3.3 ha took more than a year. The official ceremony did not take place earlier with respect to the growers’ superstition not to conduct a complex presentation before the crops have been planted.
The launch of the second phase allowed the company to expand the variety of crops grown, and plant greens in addition to tomatoes and cucumbers. They grow potted basil, rucola, parsley and other products. The business idea was inspired by the governor, who complained that there are plenty of tomatoes and cucumbers, but it is hard to buy local lettuce and other greenery.
Orbita-Agro are producing about 5.5 thousand pots of greens per day. About 4 thousand pieces are delivered to trade chains. Mr. Alikhanov is hoping that the competitors will catch up on the trend and new players will appear in the market.
Mr. Mamedov, co-owner of Orbita-Agro, is expecting that after the expansion the greenhouse complex will produce about 800 tons of cucumbers and 780 tons of tomatoes a year. The local government’s forecast is also rather promising: they are expecting the overall amount of greenhouse crops to reach 2 thousand tons by the end of 2019.
“If you asked me three years ago what our relations with the trade chains was, I would have said that we had serious issues. Currently we have established a proper dialogue and our produce is present on the shelves”, noted the co-owner of Orbita-Agro. The grower added that even though the produce is willingly purchased, they still face certain difficulties with the trade chains. Mr. Mamedov is, for instance, not happy with the produce layout in the shop. “We would like it to be done better and have a bigger assortment presented… So that the shops present the products in the same way they saw in the production. However, the shop assistants throw the greenery randomly on the shelves and the end customers give negative feedback on the goods they get”, explained the grower.
Despite lack of greenhouse produce in the market, Mr. Mamedov named agricultural business a risky one. Prices vary during the year, and in summer the purchase cost can drop lower than the production cost.
During the excursion, Mr. Alikhanov and others examined the irrigation system, evaluated the plantation and took part in planting seeds.
The co-owner of a competitor, greenhouse complex Teplitsy Dona, Mr. Pavel Kuptsov, said that as a result of the second phase of Orbita-Agro, there has been overproduction. “However, even with this new greenhouse we barely meet 30% of the market demand in greenhouse vegetables”, noted the governor, adding that all producers can find their own niche in the market. Moreover, the head of the region suggested that the local growers promote their produce in other neighboring regions as well as foreign countries. Mr. Mamedov has ensured the visitors that the recent project is not the last expansion of the business. A similar project can be carried over already in the coming year. Mr. Alikhanov in turn has announced that the issues that Orbita-Agro used to have with gas supplies have been solved. Mr. Mamedov, however, is not yet optimistic about achieving the all-year production cycle, as it currently takes them about two months to prepare for the new production year.