One of the largest producers of greenhouse vegetables in Russia – Agro-Industrial Holding “Eco-Culture” – has taken on gardening. This autumn in Stavropol territory there will be laid an intensive garden costing 5 billion rubles.
Sergey Fomenkov, Vice-President for Strategy and Marketing of the Eco-Culture agro-industrial holding company, has stated their intention to develop intensive gardening in Stavropol Territory. According to him, the laying of a garden of 800 hectares in the Mineralovodsky district of Stavropol is planned for 2019-2022. This location was not chosen randomly. The company is confident that in Mineralnye Vody region there are optimal conditions for intensive gardening: the mountain-forest climate prevails, it is relatively dry, wet air masses from the Black Sea do not reach there as they are delayed by the Main Caucasus Range, winters are warm and short.
“The project will be implemented in three stages. During the first one, from autumn 2019 to spring 2020, we will lay the first 306 hectares. In the second one, in the spring of 2021, another 200 hectares. And finally, from the autumn of 2021 to the spring of 2022, the remaining 294 ha. We will use high-quality rootstocks from domestic and European nurseries, ” said Fomenkov.
He added that within seven years the garden will be harvesting more than 15 thousand tons of apples per year. Then, within two years, full capacity will be reached (over 30 thousand tons). Next to the garden, investors will build a modern fruit storage facility with sorting and packaging lines, as well as an accommodation for workers. Investments of approximately 5 billion rubles ‘ECO-culture’ expects to recoup in five years.
The harvest (apples of nine most popular varieties) ‘ECO-culture’ will send to “the largest federal and local networks of Russia”, with which the company, as a major producer of greenhouse vegetables, has long-standing partnership relations. In particular, Eco-Culture-Trade LLC, which is part of the holding’s structure, interacts with X5 Retail Group (Pyaterochka, Perekrestok and Karusel networks), Magnit, Lenta and Okay hypermarkets, supermarkets Dixie, Azbuka Vkusa and others. In total – about 20 companies in Central, Southern, North Caucasus and North-Western districts of the Russian Federation. “In addition to this, we are already exploring possibilities for exporting our apples,” said Sergey Fomenkov.
According to the director of the state institution “Stavropolvinogradplodoprom” Sergey Lysenko, intensive gardening is now developing quite actively. “The share of imported apples, pears and other fruits remains rather high in the domestic market,” the expert stated. “New orchards that grow fruits on an industrial scale contribute greatly to solving the problem of import substitution.”
Oleg Ryanov, head of the orchards division of the AFG National agricultural holding, says that now there is a gradual replacement of the traditional (extensive) gardens with new, intensive ones. However, it is still premature to talk about some particularly active development, as the expert noted. “There are few big players in this market. In Russia, according to various estimates, 70-85 percent are still occupied by old, non-intensive gardens, or by gardens used to grow apples for processing. More than half of all Russian apples are produced in private farms. However, these fruits are not for commercial sale, do not end up on the shelves of retail chains and do not compete with imports. ”
“Gardening is now in trend, the state support program includes concessional lending, subsidies for laying new gardens, as well as a return of capital expenditures (CAPEX), which the investor incurred during the construction of modern fruit storage facilities,” noted Tamara Reshetnikova, general director of research company Growth Technologies. “Despite the ban on the supply of apples from Poland and the growth in domestic production, in the winter-spring season half of the market of fresh apples are imports.”
“In two or three years, the Russian consumer will buy not just an apple, but choose specific sorts. And then the winning positions will be taken by manufacturers with a more original assortment of apple sorts, ” added Reshetnikova.