Green­houses could help cut im­ports of fruits, veg­eta­bles

Kyiv Post - - Business Focus - Kyiv Post staff writer Svitlana Tuchynska can be reached at [email protected]

the amount of glass green­houses dropped in 2011 from 407 hectares to 384 hectares. Surg­ing gas prices mean green­houses have to cut mar­gins or find al­ter­na­tive en­ergy sources.

“Vast ma­jor­ity of green houses, es­pe­cially the old Soviet types, were heated with gas. They are very sen­si­tive to the price of gas,” says Stre­lyuk.

Fir­tash has an ob­vi­ous ad­van­tage. He con­trols a siz­able chunk of Ukraine’s fer­til­izer sup­plies. A for­mer part­ner of Rus­sia’s Gazprom in the sup­ply of gas to Ukraine, Fir­tash-owned Ostchem con­tin­ues to im­port fuel into Ukraine at an undis­closed price that is ne­go­ti­ated sep­a­rately from the state.

As small to mid-sized farm­ers in­creas­ingly com­plain about ex­pen­sive fuel, fer­til­izer and loans, Fir­tash seems to have all the re­sources at his fin­ger­tips to heat up green­houses and en­rich the na­tion’s al­ready su­pe­rior Black Soil.

Asked whether he would heat up his own green­houses with his own gas and fer­til­izer at sub­si­dized prices, giv­ing his farm­ing busi­nesses a com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage, Fir­tash con­ceded that the share of en­ergy ex­penses in the cash cost of DF Agro’s prod­ucts is around 50 per­cent. But, he added: “The gas busi­ness is not re­lated to the green­house busi­ness. Yes, I’m a share­holder in both busi­nesses, but they are not re­lated. These are two dif­fer­ent com­pa­nies.”

Not all Ukrainian green­houses are so en­ergy in­ten­sive, though.

Warm and sunny Crimea ben­e­fits from a mild, hos­pitable cli­mate.

“There are more (plas­tic film green­houses pop­ping up) each year … and they are very prof­itable,” Yar­mak said.

Ex­perts say in­vest­ments into green­houses are a solid bet, if the main risks and po­ten­tially large heat­ing costs can be con­tained.

“More peo­ple are try­ing to lead healthy life­styles by eat­ing more veg­eta­bles and fruit. De­mand will grow,” said Lesya Sukhodol­ska, a spokesper­son at Ukra­grocon­sult, a lead­ing do­mes­tic agribusi­ness con­sul­tancy. Ex­port po­ten­tial is an­other driver. “Many in­ter­est­ing projects are be­ing dis­cussed,” Stre­lyuk said.

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