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May 23 2006, 00:00 Agrarian Marketing Project

AMP organized Public/Private Partnership "Center Stages" Ukraine’s Fruit & Vegetable Industry

In 2003, when the Agricultural Marketing Project (AMP) began its activities in Ukraine, it discovered that the fruit & vegetable (F&V) business of Ukraine was very fragmented, very short on technological information, lacked experience in many aspects of the business including - modern production technologies, post harvest handling (PHH), storage, processing and marketing.  Also, there was virtually no information about the F&V business; and, price fluctuations were tremendous.  After establishing a very successful MI system AMP determined the industry also needed its own event, something were all industry players  could gather, receive critical marketing and technological information, exchange experiences and new ideas; and, discuss prospects with industry participants and firms supporting the industry.

AMP wanted to bring private initiative to the support such an event, and make it self-supporting.  To do this AMP convinced its subcontractor APK-Inform to create an international F&V business conference with technical assistance (TA) from AMP.  The First International Conference "Fruits & Vegetables of Ukraine" was a major success.  It gathered most major fresh produce industry players and received substantial positive feedback from participants.  In total about 350 professionals from 15 countries participated.  The conference received good press nationwide and was even recognized internationally.   

The first conference was so successful and revealed so many opportunities for SME business development that the government of Ukraine (GOU), represented by the state exhibitions company "Expocenter Ukrainy" offered AMP/APK-Inform free facilities for its second international conference.  The center also organized in combination with the conference an international exposition of F&V related industry players to be held during the conference.  Both, the conference and, the exposition, gained from this and the overall event was very successful.  As a result, in 2006 the size of the exposition is expected to increase four-fold and the number of participants and visitors will at least triple.  This will be great for support of the conference and the exposition, and brings together a public/private partnership that has helped to "center stage" Ukraine’s F&V industry.

Thus, AMP’s international conference initiative received substantial private and public sector support, and both sides of the partnership worked well together.  From the private side the information service firm APK-Inform took the lead.  However, AMP & APK-Inform also involved many other private industry firms in support of the conference and exposition.  From the public side the government Exposition Company "Expocenter Ukrainy" took the lead and worked to attract many domestic and international firms to participate in the exposition on a paying basis.  APK-Inform invested about US$60,000 in the conference and the "Expocenter Ukrainy" another US$100,000.  These costs are mainly covered by participants and advertisers and this year the budget to carry out the combined conference and exposition will be much larger.  

The important thing is that this partnership for carrying out the conference/exposition is very good for the clients of AMP in the F&V sector.  It helps clients expand their horizons and identify new market and business opportunities.  When they take these ideas back to their villages and implement things they learn they begin to develop the local village economies and develop jobs for the rural people who desperately need employment opportunities.  Participation in the events have generated substantial additional sales for participants; helped attract new investments that improve the efficiency of Ukraine’s F&V business.  In fact, one company/participant during the first conference made contacts that helped realize US$150,000 in sales; and, at the second conference/exposition this was even greater.  AMP and other conference organizers estimate that the total direct economic impact of these conferences is at least 10 times the cost.

This public/private partnership is developing a lasting relationship because APK-Inform and the "Expocenter Ukrainy" are already actively promoting their joint conference/ exposition for December 2006.  In April of 2006 the two groups, with help from AMP, conducted a press conference at the Expocenter that shared with the press the aspirations for this year’s conference/exposition.  The press took what they learned and spread the word throughout Ukraine as well as to international contacts.  This joint initiative is expected to be good for the fruit and vegetable industry players of Ukraine, because it has become one of the major F&V industry events in Eastern Europe.  In fact, there is no event of this caliber anywhere in the FSU or East European countries.

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