Friday, January 18, 2013

Greenhouse farming in Georgia

Preamble

As a continuation of the series of articles about agricultural opportunities in Georgia, we at Affinitas Consulting provide another article about greenhouse farming sub sector in Georgia.

The following article will provide information about:
- Existing types of greenhouses;
- Inform about current situation in the sub sector held in Georgia and tell about appropriate regions to construct greenhouses;
- Will give information about related costs of building up greenhouses in Georgia and provide with comparison with international costs;
- Inform about typical crops cultivated in domestic greenhouses;
- Analyze of the possible yield for a specific crop cultivated in and out of greenhouse.


Typical greenhouse close to Tbilisi (currently for sale)
Types of greenhouses

Climate change and problems linked with it have become more and more of a topical issue in recent decades. All geographical areas have been affected, therefore making it more and more difficult for the agricultural sector to forecast patterns and crops yield.
So several decades ago, when faced with such problems, farmers invented such technology that would give more independence, guarantees and stability.
Since then, greenhouses have passed several development stages and now we can find all types of greenhouses with a variety of shapes, heights, widthsand roofing technologies.
But in general they are divided in two major categories:

Low greenhouses are directly adjusted to the part of the land where crops are planted for about 3-4 weeks. Most often they are used when the plants need protection from the wind and when they are in the first stage of their growth.
But if the crops need seasonal protection high greenhouses should be used. It has various shapes and heights. Such constructions provide entrepreneurs with the advantage to use it throughout the year as additional lighting, heating, irrigating and other essential systems can be attached to it.

High greenhouses also provide farmers with the wide range of roofing technologies, such as glass, special greenhouse tape, plastic, polycarbonate, etc.
From the above mentioned materials glass and plastic were mostly used in the past. Nowadays special greenhouse tape and polycarbonate are the most popular materials in the world, as well as in Georgia.
However in order to make decision concerning with the type and materials of the building, it’s necessary to determine the kind of plants that a farmer plans to cultivate.

Current situation in greenhouse farming and appropriate regions in Georgia to construct greenhouses
Greenhouse farming is mostly spread in the Western part of Georgia, specifically in Imereti and Adjara regions. Naturally available and extracted hot thermal waters were one of the cause of the popularity of greenhouses in West Georgia and in part of the Samegrelo region as well.
Thermal waters are a great advantage for greenhouse owners as it allows great economic savings on heating costs.
Despite the fact that large and small greenhouse entrepreneurs are satisfied with the income derived from their activities, the current situation of the industry sees opportunities for large margins of improvement.
Western part of the country is loaded with old glass greenhouses, built during the Soviet Union time. Their natural life span is long expired. Roofing must be changed (due to light translucency issues), irrigation systems often require repairing.
However, despite of these factors Georgian small entrepreneurs manage to lead quite good business and are actively involved in the industry and greenhouse farming still turns out to be their major source of income.
Very good example is the herbs sector, which we have discussed in the previous article (Link!), and where detailed information is provided.
The herbs producers are mostly accumulated in Imereti region and supply domestic market throughout the Summer. And since the demand and prices for such products rise during Winter and other cold periods of year, they increase production and begin to export.


Old green house in Georgia (currently for sale)
Related costs of building up greenhouses in Georgia

Several companies provide services of greenhouse construction in Georgia and types of construction (wood/steel) and roofing materials determines the prices.
These companies do not lag behind the foreign competitors and are able to provide the latest materials in the industry. So they mostly produce two types of greenhouses roofed by special greenhouse tap and polycarbonate.
Special tap is relatively cheap technology. The average cost of one hectare greenhouse, with the height of 6 meters varies between $150,000 - $750,000. And the guarantee for such construction starts from 3 years.
Such variation of price is reasoned by the quality of construction (single or double roofing) and by the installation of additional equipment like ventilation, heating, irrigation and other systems.
Polycarbonate greenhouse is more expensive, but in turn it has about 25 years of guarantee.
The average cost for such building varies between $1,000,000 - $1,200,000 and the price includes almost all the necessary technologies for beginning and leading the farming.
Almost the same prices are suggested by the foreign companies; however the costs of transportation and customs taxes should be taken under consideration. As well as the probable need of future services on site.


Crops usually cultivated in greenhouses in Georgia

As well as in the rest of the world, vegetables and greens like cucumber, tomato, herbs, onion, pepper, tarragon, salad, carrots and etc are the cultures mostly cultivated in greenhouses.
This fact is of course primarily determined by market demand. When the weather becomes cold in the local and export markets, simultaneously “greenhouse farmers” become active and meet their requirements.
Mushrooms and other experimental options are also produced in Georgian greenhouses, but they are the exception rather than the norm.

Specific yield for a crop cultivated in and out of the greenhouse
Nobody argues that greenhouse is a tool that can be used to facilitate the growing of plants. However it’s impossible to determine the harvest comparison between the specific crops cultivated in and out of the greenhouse.
Various numbers are indicated on different internet pages, but none of them are reasonable and most often they are used as incentives to make someone build greenhouse.
As protecting plants from cold and wind are not enough to affect its harvest. Lots of factors such as amount of water supplied, fertilizer and other technologies have the influence on the final outcome.
First of all greenhouses provides a certain portion of independence to farmers and don’t give guarantees of harvest.


Summary

So, when the decision of building up a greenhouse is made, it’s necessary to determine which crops are planned to be cultivated. Choosing the right place is also very important.
It’s necessary to find out the expert, who will provide consultations concerning with the layout of the building, the material of roofing as well as the other details directly link with the greenhouse.
Most often such consultants are included in the prices of constructing the greenhouses.
It’s also necessary to consider that first of all the greenhouse is a luxury allowing farmers to cultivate warmth-loving crops during the cold seasons that in turn provides a good business opportunity.
Especially in Georgia, which is surrounded by such countries as Russia and Ukraine, which have stricter natural conditions.
Exactly the export of such seasonal products turns out to be the major source of income for small and medium “greenhouse farmers” and still stays an open market for bigger players.

At Affinitas we remain available to help any investor interested in the acquisition of land or in setting up a business activitiy in Georgia. For further information please visit our web site at: www.affinitasconsulting.aePlease direct any query to info@affinitasconsulting.ae or join our Facebook page to keep updated on the latest news: www.facebook.com/Affinitas 



Article by: Kate Lekishvili & edited by Luca Gorlero. All rights are reserved. Total reproduction or partial reproduction of the information above is forbidden unless authorized in writing by Affinitas Consulting.



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