Russian agricultural company EKO-culture has begun work on a high-tech greenhouse complex the size of 140 football pitches that will be capable of growing 63,000 tonnes of tomatoes a year.
The project is being built in Kabardino-Balkaria region in the northern Caucasus, and will be carried out in two stages. The $105m first phase will cover 40ha and is due to be complete in the first quarter of 2023. The 60ha second phase will be complete in 2024. Together, they are expected to grow vegetables worth around $80m a year.
Alexander Rudakov, the president of EKO-culture, told reporters on Friday: “The project in Kabardino-Balkaria will create 2,000 jobs … It will be a supermodern greenhouse complex, but we will not use robots to pick tomatoes because the region needs jobs. At the same time, we will automate everything as much as possible in order to make it easier for people.”
At present, Russia imports 500,000 tonnes of tomatoes a year. However, Rudakov said Russian supermarkets are happy to take his company’s produce because they were “tasty, last longer and are in demand”.
He added: “We plan to grow 63kg of tomato per square meter from February to December. Then we will transfer large areas to raspberries, strawberries and blueberries.”
EKO-culture is the largest producer of indoor vegetables in the Russian Federation, with about 300ha of greenhouses in operation. As well as tomatoes, it grows cucumbers and lettuce and has logistics and distribution centres able to handle 250,000 tonnes of vegetables a year.
Image: At present, Russia imports half a million tonnes of tomatoes a year (Brands&People/Unsplash)