Off-season Vegetable Production to Profit Farmers
Marneuli - On June 8 vegetable growers from Marneuli district attended a Field Day organized by USAID-supported project AgVANTAGE at the demo field in village Tamarisi.
During the Field Day local farmers as well as representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture and other invited guests learned about over wintering onion and off-season vegetables production technologies, modern poly-tunnel construction and modern farming machinery.
The main advantage of growing off-season crops is the opportunity of capturing a market “window” when the demand is high and supply is limited. Since off-season vegetables are harvested earlier than the traditional varieties, farmers are able to receive a higher price for their products and benefit from increased productivity.
“Our objective is to help farmers identify and develop strategies that will help them take advantage of off-season market opportunities in both Europe and in Georgia. We also introduce high value crops to supply these off-season markets.” – said Richard Hurelbrink, General Director of AgVANTAGE.
In order to achieve this objective, AgVANTAGE started cooperation with Tavtavi Ltd. Seeds of a new hybrid variety Hi Keeper were imported from the US and seeded on 1 ha demo field with modern drip irrigation system, owned by Tavtavi Ltd. in September of 2005. Due to the advanced production technology, the harvest started at the end of May, one month earlier compared to traditional varieties of onions. Estimated yield is 30 tons per ha, that is 30% more than the other varieties. The entire production cycle was controlled by AgVANTAGE agronomists and American consultants.
Production of 10 types of other off-season vegetables started in February of 2006. Seedlings of sweet peppers, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, Broccoli, red cabbages, Chinese cabbages, white cabbages, melons, water melons and cucumbers were grown in special trays under the newly-constructed low-cost polythene tunnel. All construction materials were purchased locally which brought the estimated production cost down to USD 14-15 per sq. meter. The covering material is usable for at least 3 years and the construction itself can be used for at least 15 years. Transplanting of seedlings from polythene tunnels into the open field started in May. The harvest is expected to start in early July.
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