Ukrainian growers looking for ways to compete with Europe

Despite the fact that the greenhouse acreage has been growing in the past three years, the number of greenhouses allocated for tomatoes in the Ukraine is gradually decreasing. As a result, tomato export in 2018 amounted to 15.2 thousand tons, being the worst in the past 12 years. In an interview with East-Fruit, Mr. Aleksander Didyk, the deputy of the general director of PJSC Zmiyevskaya Ovoschnaya Fabrika shares his opinion on the situation in the Ukrainian greenhouse sector.

Aleksander, what is the share of cucumbers and tomatoes in your production?
As of today, 100% of our production is cucumbers. This year the team have decided that growing cucumbers is more profitable, thus we have made respective amendments in the production process. With that, we believe that the potential for growing other vegetables, such as tomatoes, eggplants and lettuce in Ukraine has been underestimated.

What type of cucumbers do you grow?
In 2019 we are growing a bee-pollinated hybrid of the Estafeta variety.

The acreage allocated for tomatoes is decreasing. What are the reasons for that in your opinion?
It is not a simple question. In our market, mainly Ukrainian and Turkish greenhouse growers are represented. It is not a secret that the climatic conditions in the south of Turkey are very different from those of the eastern Ukraine. Bearing in mind the fact that a major part of the Ukrainian production cost is dependent on the energy, it is very difficult and often impossible for the Ukrainian producers to compete with the Turkish ones. Another factor is the support of local producers in European countries. Big production volumes in such countries as the Netherlands, Germany, Poland and even Russia is explained by the presence of such measures as import quotas, easy loans and others.

What influence will the reduction of acreage have on the market?
The reduction will have practically no influence on the Ukrainian tomato market. Import will increase but the prices will remain the same.

What decisions do you see in the situation when the greenhouse acreage is decreasing?
The only proper decision in our view is to introduce state support of the sector. Moreover, the question of reasonable land resource usage should be raised. As of today, the overall acreage of private land plots amounts to 4 million ha. The paradox is that this land creates a shortfall in country profits. On average such a plot generates a profit of 200 USD, while in production in developed countries the profit amounts to 1500 USD per ha.

Who is your consumer?
We produce for the local market, as it is not that easy to enter the European market. We do deliver small batches to Belarus and the Baltic countries but in general, this direction does not seem very promising.

What are the peak production months?
In view of the fact that we grow cucumbers February to June, the peak months are in spring, February to April.

What contemporary technologies do you use in the production?
PJSC Zmiyevskaya Ovoschnaya Fabrika are growing the most technological hybrids of the world's seed producers from the Netherlands, Israel, the USA, and the most contemporary growing technologies are used. One such new technology is the application of biological crop protection. We fight with pests with the help of other insects. Thus, a plant is not subject to harmful chemical substances.

What trends have you noticed in the fruit and vegetable field?
Bearing in mind all the above said we consider the internal market the most promising one in the nearest future. Vegetables make up a significant part of a European’s shopping basket. Since the Ukraine is the biggest country in Europe, the potential for development is huge.


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