A new goal achieved: two young Moldovan farmers export fruits to new high-value markets, with OPTIM's support
Two young fruit growers from the Republic of Moldova have established one of the most modernized cherry orchards in the country. Producing an average of 160 tons of cherries per season, EcoFarm Prod requested the support of the OPTIM Project in order to be able to export the fruits to European markets. With OPTIM's assistance, the products met all the necessary criteria and were exported to the markets of Spain, Italy, Belgium, and Poland.
The local company EcoFarm Prod owns a super-intensive cherry orchard on an area of 25 hectares, the second largest orchard in the country. Since the first planting in 2018, cherry trees have borne rich fruit every year, and the harvested fruits have been exported to the Russian market. In 2023, after 6 years of activity, there are seven high-performance varieties of cherries in the orchard, the most demanded on the international markets.
“In order to be able to reap good fruit, it is very important to have an anti-hail net installed to protect your fruits. Irrigation is also mandatory, without which it is almost impossible to grow tasty fruits. By irrigation we also give fertilizer to the tree, so that we have a beautiful, well-developed tree, "says Vasile Braga, co-founder of EcoFarm Prod
In 2023, producers changed the export trajectory to European markets, where certain criteria must be followed in order for the fruit to be accepted and put up for sale in stores in Europe. Investments are also needed. Farmers turned to the OPTIM Project to help them meet the export criteria and access new, high-value markets.
"Because we don't have a sorting line and a hydro cooler that cools the cherry in a minute and ten seconds, we couldn't get the cherries to Europe. So, I understood that we need to invest in high-performance technologies and equipment that can ease our work, but also improve our final product. We needed a hydro cooler that cools the cherry from 30 degrees to 8-7 degrees, keeps it cold and so the fruit does not decompose so quickly. This allows me to keep the cherry for 30 days in the cold room, pass it through the sorting line to calibrate the cherry, then transport it and sell it on the European market." says Vasile.
Thus, with the support of the OPTIM Project, EcoFarm Prod purchased and installed a combined hydro-cooling system for water cooling and optical sorting of cherries. Hydro-cooler is an equipment, installed for the first time in the Republic of Moldova.
"Thank you very much to the Swiss company HELVETAS, that through the OPTIM project, offered me support to procure the hydro cooler. Without their support, our work would have not developed, and we could not grow to reach the European market," added Vasile Braga, co-founder
The OPTIM Project supports local initiatives aimed at improving farmers' access to relevant services, technologies and knowledge, as well as the adoption of digital solutions and smart farming practices, increasing competitiveness and facilitating market access, in order to increase farmers' incomes.