The Vinnytsia Agroproyektbud farm in the Vinnytsia region of Ukraine mainly grows maize, winter wheat, winter rapeseed, soy and sunflowers. In 2016, the firm sent its top-level executive to the Manager Training Programme in Germany. Vasyl Matienko was looking for technologies to modernise production. He brought home not only contacts and equipment, but also a new crop – raspberries.
GIZ: You were looking for new partners in Germany. So did you find them?
Vasyl Matienko: Yes, the MP has helped us a lot in positioning ourselves in the market and making an informed choice. At an MP event, we were introduced to the Amazonen-Werke H. Dreyer GmbH & Co. KG. We very much liked their agricultural machines and, as a result, we purchased a seeder and a tiller. These new technologies allowed us to speed through the spring fieldwork – and increase the yield as well.
How did you finance your investment? International donors are behind the financing of many Ukrainian projects – the European Investment Bank alone supplies three billion euros in financial aid.
Since we have a very good credit rating and reputation, we can easily find banks to finance our projects and acquisitions. So it was no problem to find a Ukrainian bank that would lend to us. We also funded half of the 340,000-euro investment out of our own pockets. During the MP, I learned about many financing options for purchasing German technologies which I will keep in mind for future investments.
What are your other plans?
We want to further modernise the cultivation and processing of our agricultural products, and automate the processes as much as possible, so we can save on expensive labour and complete all the cultivation-related processes within the optimal timeframe. This will enable us to increase profits over the longer term.
That sounds like you’re going to start downsizing in the near future. Are you?
No, in fact we have hired additional staff. On the one hand, we are expanding the area we have under cultivation, and on the other hand, we are looking for new crops. We have also started working with crop plants that require more manual labor.
What are you growing on your new farmland?
Mainly our traditional crops. But we are also trying something new in that respect. In 2016, we purchased 2,100 seedlings of seven varieties of raspberries from a distributor in Germany. They fruit from June to October. We want to trial them as crops, to see if we can nail down the specifics of their cultivation. Then we’ll decide if we can grow them industrially.
How did you settle on raspberries?
We were looking for another crop to grow, but one with a larger profit per hectare. And then we stumbled on raspberries (laughs). If we decide to grow them on an industrial scale, we will need more special technologies. We want to use high-quality machines, like the ones made in Germany. We need harvesters, freezers and maybe berry processing equipment.
Do you also export your goods, or do you only produce for the domestic market?
We operate in the B2B sector and sell to distributors. Then they sell most of it outside the country, with only a small percentage of it being sold domestically. So our products, including raspberries, might just make their way over to Germany!
Mr. Matienko, thank you for the interview and we wish you every success with the raspberries!