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January 13 2005, 11:18 Agrarian Marketing Project

AMP invites journalists to attend the launch of the first in Ukraine cooperative farmer drying mini-plant for fruit and vegetable commodities

Lviv office of Agricultural Marketing Project (AMP) plans to conduct an inauguration ceremony of grant assignment (the equipment for infrared drying of fruit and vegetable commodities) for the agricultural service cooperative "Agrodvir" (Lviv oblast, Zhelkovskiy rayon, village Zibolki) on the 9th of December 2004. The representatives of rayon and oblast administrations, AMP specialists, mass media people and local inhabitants will be invited to this event.

The farmers - fruit and vegetable producers of Lviv oblast often have problems to sell the produced commodities; so AMP specialists supported the initiative of the "Agrodvir" cooperative to implement fruit and vegetable drying practices that will lead to the additional sales profits and jobs in the rural area.

In many world countries the drying of vegetables is the developed and attractive business; at the same time in Ukraine this niche is nearly free. Development of vegetable and fruit drying in Lviv, to the opinion of AMP specialists, may be an additional impetus for the more effective production of fruit and vegetable commodities in the region and will support the increase of rural population incomes. We should note that the cooperative plans to dry only those vegetables and fruits which cannot be sold on the freshmarket and are usually left in the field. So thanks to the drying of vegetable and fruit commodities the members of the cooperative can expect for up to USD $ 94,300 of the annual additional profit. Part of this sum will reach the population, cause it is planned to purchase the commodities for processing from the local inhabitants too.

The cooperative is planning to dry carrot, cabbage, red beets, greens, onion, apples and berries. Part of the commodities, in particular mushrooms and partially apples and berries will be purchased from the local inhabitants, and a part will be grown by the members of the cooperative. The produced dry commodity will be sold through the supermarket chains, for the public catering facilities, for schools and for military forces of Ukraine. There are also good perspectives for sales of the dry commodities for the producers of such products as dry soups and other dishes which do not require cooking.

The advantage of dry commodity over the fresh one is the possibility of its long-term storage (up to two years). Due to the modern drying technologies the produced dry commodities preserve up to 80-90% of vitamins and bioactive elements; put in water for a short time (10-20 minutes), vegetables and fruits almost fully restore their natural properties. Dry fruits and vegetables do not contain any conserving or chemical agents and are not exposed to the dangerous electro-magnetic rays. Dry vegetables and fruits weigh 4-8 times lesser than fresh commodities, and this fact decreases transportation costs significantly.

The example of "Agrodvir" cooperative is rather unique for Ukraine, where cooperative movement in agriculture is poorly developed unlike other countries. The idea of the cooperative development was generated by the group of farmers from Zhelkovskiy rayon of Lviv oblast as early as in 1998. At that moment six farmers united in an informal group and started to work jointly. Together they purchased agricultural inventory for a more favorable wholesale prices, and also jointly sold the produced commodities for the wholesalers on beneficial terms. In 2002 three more farmers from the same rayon joined the group. Until recently the members of the cooperative obtained credits independently and worked on a mutual trust basis; in January 2004 with the help of Lviv AMP office during the common meeting it was decided to set up officially the "Agrodvir" cooperative; it was registered on the 6th of February 2004. There are 9 members - farm owners in the cooperative for this moment; the number of the cooperative members is expected to increase in the nearest future.

The main business of all cooperative members is the production of fruit and vegetable commodities. To this moment 255 hectares of lands are in common property, including 12 hectares of orchards. Except the traditional for western region vegetable production, the members of the cooperative produce the small amounts of the specific crops such as greens and pepper, and also new for Ukrainian market cabbage varieties.

New vision and new approaches for the business development of the cooperatives members let them win the grant in the framework of Agricultural Marketing Project Grant Program. In line with this program the Project purchased drying equipment (four installations of 70 kg/shift capacity) and four ventilation devices of "Feruza" firm production on total sum of about USD $ 16,000. According to the evaluations done by the specialists, the grant will let to cover only 12% of expenses for business implementation; the rest will be taken upon the members of the "Agrodvir" cooperative.

Lviv AMP office invites the journalists to participate in the grant inauguration ceremony and asks to pass accreditation beforehand by phones (032) 294 95 65, 294 95 66 or through e-mail: [email protected], cause the number of places is limited. The journalists will have the possibility to communicate with the management and specialists of Agricultural Marketing Project, members of the cooperative, local inhabitants and the local authorities. All the journalists will be provided with the detailed information about Agricultural Marketing Project activities in Ukraine, press-release of the event, AMP materials and publications.

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