Launching of the first export-oriented packaging platform for fresh fruit and vegetables in Zaporizhia region


Never Vodiane village of Kamianka-Dniprovska district, Zaporizhia region, has so closely approached Europe and its sales markets.

This first export-oriented fresh F&V platform for Zaporizhia region in Ukraine, was launched on 22 September, 2017.

Such an object is not built in this very location by chance. According to the official data, area under greenhouses in this region has been estimated to be around 2,000 ha and produces in total around 500,000 tons of tomatoes and cucumbers a year! Sales market is an urgent issue for the inhabitants of this region, because the welfare of each family in Kamianka-Dniprovska district depends on the success of selling these products.

The idea of creating a packaging platform for fresh fruit and vegetables belongs to a Head of the “Ahrokoin” company, Andrii Chornyi, who has been engaged in growing greenhouse vegetables for many years and has a great deal of trading experience. A year ago, Andrii Chornyi prepared a business plan, that was approved and endorsed by the managers of Ukraine Horticulture Business-Development Project (UHBDP), which operates in southern Ukraine, funded by Global Affairs Canada, co-financed and implemented by Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA). Starting from May 2017, in terms of UHBDP Competitive Matching Grant, “Ahrokoin” has begun building and equipping the platform. Competitive Matching Grant program is based on co-financing model, where the most part of money is invested by the company itself. 

- The fate brought me to the Canadian Project. A small experience of selling products to Europe has shown that the region needs such a platform, as foreign consumers impose high requirements to quality and product type. Products must be homogeneous and cooled before transportation, says Andrii Chornyi. – A lot of work has been done. Sometimes it seemed that it was an unbearable burden, I wanted to give up on it many times, put away for later, but UHBDP has always provided support and guidance. Owing to the team effort and assistance from the Canadian partners, the project has been implemented.

The fact that the opening of such a platform in Ukraine is important for fruit and vegetable business development is evidenced by the attention of large traders, leading Ukrainian retail chains, whose representatives came to Vodiane village to see the capacity of the packaging platform and discuss cooperation possibilities. Nick Ramsing, International Project Manager of MEDA, also notes that the creation of the platform is a serious step to market development:

- UHBDP and MEDA are very pleased that this project is being launched here today. We are happy to observe how Andrii's business grows and that his idea has realized. All this happened owing to our Matching Grant program, and this is a great example of a business model that we want to develop in Ukraine. We are very This facility will provide opportunities not only for Andrii, but also for small and medium-sized producers, who can consolidate their efforts to enter new markets. Pre-sale preparation and sales of fresh fruit and vegetables are such opportunities. What you see in front of you is a serious step towards market development. We are glad that Zaporizhia Region State Administration supports such steps and such projects. There are also other Matching Grant recipients in Zaporizhia region. We hope that this F&V platform will help to develop both the village and the region as a whole. We wish wealth and prosperity for this region and those small and medium-sized producers, who work here, – Nick Ramsing emphasizes.

According to the Project Manager of UHBDP, Dmytro Nikolaiev, this project has been a true challenge for UHBDP, because the region produces around 500,000 tons of greenhouse vegetables and it is really a difficult task to sell all this volume.

- Such an object will allow farmers from Kamianka-Dniprovska district to export their products to other countries. This object is only the first stage of the global project of Andrii Chornyi. Certification is required, Andrii is already thinking about further steps to develop his business. We do not tell what to do, we advise and help, and we will continue to do it, – Dmytro Nikolaiev emphasized during the opening of the platform.

The packaging F&V aggregation platform is a necessary element of the "cold and safety chain", certification for post-harvest harvesting and preparation of products for export to the developed European markets.

It took just over 4 months to reconstruct an old Soviet-era motor transport enterprise. The building is renovated and equipped with modern cooling, weighing and cargo equipment, air conditioning and ozone disinfecting system.

The packaging platform is the first stage of the Logistics Center for F&V aggregation, which is now capable of receiving and processing up to 80 tons of vegetables per day. The facility makes it possible for small and medium greenhouse producers to bring their vegetables to be sorted, packaged, palletized and most importantly – quickly cooled to a temperature of 5˚С in order to preserve proper quality required by the market (export one, in particular), extend shelf life and transport fresh F&V without losses.

Andrii Chornyi says he is aware of how difficult it will be to set up and run all production and marketing processes:

- I will do my best to make it work and gain traction in our region. Today, we have just cut the ribbon, but the real work will begin in the next few days. We still have a lot to do. Product quality is still evaluated visually. Our plan is to work with suppliers. For this purpose, the company will attract professional agronomist, who will advise small and medium-sized producers on nutrition and plant protection issues in order to produce high quality goods. Qualified managers will start working with large foreign traders.

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