In December 2019, GreenFood and Richel Group completed the second phase of a greenhouse complex for the cultivation of strawberries in Armenia. The first 3 hectares were finished and planted in 2017, and just two years later another 6 hectares were ready. With a total of 9 hectares of production area, GreenFood became the biggest greenhouse strawberry producer in the CIS countries.
“When we started the first block, we knew it was just the beginning,” says the director of the greenhouse, Mr Ignatosyan. “The financing of the first project had some delay, and it was quite a challenge to be on time with construction. In fact, we put the first post in September of 2017, and three months later the greenhouse was already filled with plants.”
In 2018, together with Richel, the company carefully developed the schedule and technology for the second phase, taking into account the very specific climate conditions in Armenia. It’s well known that strawberries don’t like the hot period, and GreenFood is ‘perfectly located’ high in the mountains with the highest temperature in summer around 29 degrees Celsius.
Thanks to the greenhouse with a high volume and powerful ventilation capacity, in combination with shading paints, the perfect climate inside can be maintained, while having a lot of sun for a stable production, all year round. Dividing the project into three independent blocks made it possible to have different planting times and harvesting seasons.
Despite a very difficult season, this spring, the project grows and they can supply a high quality product. There are no issues with labour shortage, due to the fact that 99% of the workers are local. “This is one of the main advantages of protected, year-round cultivation, you create full-time, well paid working places, and have no more dependency on seasonal labourers.”
Grigor Vardanyan, Managing Director of the company, is positive about the cooperation with Richel Group. “We’re glad that the representative for the company is Armenian, so he knows the culture and the language. Richel has built other greenhouses here, we’ve cooperated with some of those people too, and they were also positive.”
“We were very proud to be chosen a second time for the GreenFood project,” says Brice Richel, the sales director of Richel Group. “It’s one of Richel’s keystones to have a long-term partnership with clients, and step forward together into the more sustainable horticultural production.” Protected strawberry production is increasing all over the world, and the company wants to bring the latest technologies and know-how for clients.
“We mainly export to the Eurasian market and Russia, but we’re also surveying other markets in the Middle East, Gulf States, UAE, Qatar. Small but rich markets,” says Grigor. Russia is the main market, but the company is looking to diversify.
“With the COVID-19 crisis, we saw clearly the supply chains around the world, and how some of them could no longer exist. Countries are looking for new ways of supplying. As for us, we can’t just stop the production and go self-isolate, so our harvest goes on. The harvest that isn’t marketable, we make into eco jams which we sell on the Armenian market.”