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Primorye's hydroponic answer to the Chinese vegetable industry
The resident of the Mikhailovsky ASEZ plans to provide all Primorye with greenhouse vegetables. The project is headed by the son of the regional governor Oleg Kozhemyako - Nikita.
Self-sufficiency in vegetable products in the regions of the Far Eastern Federal District is 2,4 times lower than the national average. According to the Primorsky Krai government, it is only 38% in the region, with the national average of 87%. The problem worsened in the spring of 2020 - then, due to the closure of borders with China, prices for vegetables jumped several times. The NK-Lotus enterprise volunteered to solve the problem, which built an agro-industrial complex "Far Eastern Greenhouses", in which after the commissioning of the second and third stages there will be 35 hectares of greenhouses. The founder of the organization, Nikita Kozhemyako, spoke about the development of the project, investments in agricultural business and agricultural technologies.
Nikita Kozhemyako, photo from personal instagram account @kozhemyako_nikita /
- Nikita Olegovich, how did you come up with the idea to invest in a vegetable growing business?
- We analyzed the market and drew attention to the absence of a year-round domestically produced product. The market has a clear demand for local vegetables.
- Have you had any previous experience in the agro-industrial sector?
- No, it was a new direction, about which neither I nor the team knew anything at all. We knew the general theses. To study, I traveled to many factories throughout Russia from the Sakhalin Region to the Krasnodar Territory and the Rostov Region. We also studied foreign experience in the Republic of Belarus, Holland and Germany.
- Why was the Mikhailovsky district chosen for the greenhouses?
Mikhailovsky and Ussuriysky districts are included in the seventh light zone and are leaders in the number of sunny days per year. Such conditions allow you to grow vegetables in greenhouses with the lowest financial costs, using the technology of additional lighting.
- Did the ASEZ regime in effect in this territory help in making a decision to invest in your agro-industrial business?
- Throughout the Russian Federation, ASEZs have a special legal regime, which allows them to carry out economic activities in economically favorable conditions, while not spending money on infrastructure. Roads, power lines, and other communications are built at the expense of the federal and regional budgets. Naturally, investments in the ASEZ are a worthwhile investment.
- As of today, you have commissioned 10 hectares of greenhouses in the Mikhailovsky district. How much money was invested in the project? And when is its full payback expected in accordance with the company's business plan?
- To date, the costs of the investment phase amount to 27 rubles per square meter, mainly credit funds, operating costs for the first 829 months amounted to 4 rubles per hectare.
Investment in agriculture always requires a long payback period. Specifically, in our project, the payback will be 9 years (from 2021 to 2030).
- Are you planning to expand the project? If yes, then when?
- Now work is underway to prepare for the construction of the second stage of a greenhouse complex with an area of 15 hectares, and upon completion of construction, we will proceed to the third stage of 10 hectares. Upon completion of construction, the greenhouse complex "Far Eastern Greenhouses" will operate on an area of 35 hectares of modern high-tech greenhouses.
- What vegetables besides cucumbers do you plan to grow?
- Currently, cucumbers are grown on the entire area of the greenhouse, but in the second half of the year we will start producing tomatoes. We also grow three types of lettuce in a continuous cycle using flowing hydroponics.
- What seedlings, technologies, fertilizers do you use? Could you tell us more about the technical side of production?
- I want to say right away that we have built modern fourth-generation greenhouses, where cucumbers and tomatoes are grown on a photoculture with an automatically controlled climate and drip irrigation. Accordingly, the plants receive a well-balanced, well-dosed nutrition. In production, high-yielding hybrids of tomatoes and cucumbers are used, and delicious salads turn green on the salad line, on hydroponics.
- What production volumes do you plan to achieve by the end of the year?
Until the end of 2021, 650 tons of tomatoes, 4400 tons of cucumbers and more than 100 tons of salads will be grown. In 2022 we plan to produce 3000 tons of tomatoes, 5414 tons of cucumber and more than 100 tons of salads
- How are the products planned to be sold, where? Do you already have agreements with major retailers?
- Our vegetables are already sold in many stores in Vladivostok, Ussuriisk, Khabarovsk, Komsomolsk-on-Amur, Birobidzhan and other settlements, and this is not the limit. Our cucumbers have established themselves as a truly high-quality product and are already popular among the Far East.
- How many jobs will be created at the enterprise? From which regions do you attract specialists and ordinary employees?
Today, we employ 229 people, and after the commissioning of the 2nd and 3rd stages, 800 employees will work in the "Far Eastern Greenhouses" complex, most of whom will be residents of the Primorsky Territory. Although we invite specialists from all over Russia.
- Do you plan to cooperate with local educational institutions?
- Our company is already working with the Agricultural Academy and the Agricultural College in Ussuriisk. Students are sent to us for internship. We, in turn, are happy to conduct study tours.
- What market share does your company occupy in Primorye? At what price are the products sold and how much can they be reduced? When will you be able to break even?
- At present, our market share is 30% including imports from the PRC.
By the beginning of next year, we will pass the break-even point, and 2022 will be profitable after the payment of part of the principal and interest on the loan.