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Serbia: Pilot glasshouse production of high quality vegetable seedlings

General information
Project location: Irig, Serbia
Consortium: Grow Holding BV, Planten d.o.o., RZ-Agro d.o.o., Savacoop d.o.o., Agro-Ferticrop d.o.o.
Project Budget: Euro 1.5 million
External financing: 50% grant funding by PSOM
Project period: July 2007 - June 2009

Serbia produces 2 million tons of vegetables annually, mainly in the northern region of Vojvodina and in several areas in the south of the country. Since 1995 the surface of arable land used for vegetable growing increased from 175,000 ha to above 300,000 ha in 2005. The production of cabbage and peppers doubled in this period and tomato growing tripled from 7 to 22 ha. At the same time the demand for higher quality products increased as well. Large buyers such as supermarket chains entered the market, demanding stable supply of vegetables the year around of consistently high quality.

Serbian vegetable growers cannot easily meet the requirements. Locally, there is no professional vegetable seedlings producer, so growers raise their own seedlings of variable but often mediocre quality. Imported seedlings are expensive even for sizeable farms, let alone for medium or small growers, exacerbated by 30% import duties and considerable losses during the unpredictable transport.

Grow Holding from The Netherlands and a group of Serbian companies and professionals involved in the vegetable growing sector have recognised the opportunity of setting up Serbia’s first professional nursery dedicated to growing high quality seedlings for the horticulture sector in Serbia and neighbouring countries. In order to support the development of the first phase of their larger investment plan, they have applied for a PSOM grant.

The main purpose of the project is to establish a modern glasshouse for the cultivation of vegetable seedlings. It will be the first glasshouse construction in Serbia built for vegetable nursing. The hardware to be purchased in the pilot phase (mainly from Dutch suppliers) includes:

  • a greenhouse structure (0.9 ha)
  • a boiler house and heating equipment
  • irrigation equipment
  • a climate room
  • computer for climate control
  • Phyto-drip equipment
  • a sowing machine for trays.

The partners will form a joint venture and lease a suitable piece of land in the area of Irig, Vojvodina where the glasshouse will be constructed. To actively develop the market, the partners will conduct presentations and workshops for growers, students and purchasing managers of supermarket chains. Furthermore, a marketing organisation for smallholders in one vegetable growing area will be developed, to be replicated in other areas of the country in the future.

The partners intend to build up the company in the years after the project with the aim of achieving large-scale production of various varieties of vegetable plantlets. The project will significantly contribute to strengthening the performance and profitability of Serbia’s horticulture sector.

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