“I was getting bored with being dependent on the state and thought maybe I could do something to expand my activities even further. And I did it. I was trying to solve all of my problems and in the meantime I heard about the EU-supported Lagodekhi Local Action Group. Most importantly, I am no longer dependent on the assistance”, proudly says Tengiz.
The Beridze are Adjarian eco-migrants. Tengiz was born and raised in the region of Khulo. In April 1989, his village was abandoned due to the landslide in Zemo Adjara. In November of the same year, some of the eco-migrants were settled in the village of Heretiskari, in Lagodekhi region and continued their life in the lowland area. Tengiz, who is now a head of cucumber greenhouse, also stayed away from the geologically hazardous zone, however he joined those eco-migrants living in Heretiskari in a little bit later.
After serving the Soviet Civil Service, Tengiz Beridze began studying at the Georgian Technical University for certain time, but soon he left the university and went to work in Russia. In the neighbouring country he was employed in a company which transported agricultural products. In that period he got married and today his family is his main partner in cucumber production.
The Beridze family decided to return to Georgia in 2005. Tengiz has lost his left hand due to the certain trauma and could not lead his former work properly. Without thinking too much, the family decided to live in Heretiskari, where they would be surrounded by their relatives. They bought a small house and continued their life in Lagodekhi region.
„I was a typical peasant. My wife and I used to take care of a plot of land around our house, children were going to school. I used to plough the land, plant a little bit of potato, eggplant, tomato and other vegetables, but still were suffering from very difficult social conditions,” said Tengiz.
There are good conditions for vegetable production in Heretiskari. Majority of the population are involved exactly in vegetable gardening. However, for the Beridze family the challenge was the harvesting period and not the barren land.
“The volume of harvested product is high, but we get harvest when the market is already saturated with the similar vegetables. In this case the price of the product is low and accordingly our income is also law. I used to sell an eggplant for 20 tetri, while its cultivation was taking all of my energy and hard work throughout the year”, says Tengzis.
The Beridze family used to receive 200 GEL monthly financial aid from state, as socially vulnerable status holders. In addition, Tengiz was also receiving pension of 100 GEL per month as a disabled person of the second group. However, this amount of money was not enough for a four-person household to survive. The family had low income, but a lot of expenses.
Tengiz Beridze was never lazy about working, he was just striving to improve his living conditions. He knew that there always was a way out from a situation, but had to wait for the proper time. And the time came when Tengiz learnt about European neighbourhood programme for agriculture and rural development – ENPARD.
In November 2016, Tenzig Beridze accidently got the booklet that contained information about the EU-supported project. The entrepreneur took the chance and decided to take part in the grant competition. Tengiz had to make an important choice: maintaining the status of socially vulnerable or start a new life and implement his business project. He refused to have the status of socially vulnerable and as a result today he heads the cucumber greenhouse with the financial support of the EU.Tengiz created the greenhouse development project and submitted to the Lagodekhi Local Action Group for consideration. Jury approved the initiative and Tengiz got the opportunity to undergo retraining course. After the training, Tengiz managed to develop a more detailed and sophisticated business plan. The EU financed his project with 18,000 GEL in summer of the same year.
With the EU support Tengiz built a cucumber greenhouse that span a total area of 800 m2 and is equipped with heating and drip irrigation systems and special techniques. The greenhouse is designed for at least six years of production.
First the process of seed development begins in the 15-meter mini greenhouse. At the same time the entrepreneur ploughs a large greenhouse (800 sq.m.). When the seedling is moved from mini greenhouse to the large one, it is necessary to add heat and install the polyethylene sheeting for the greenhouse territory. Harvest begins in the second half of April and continues until the end of July. In August, cucumber is planted again. This is how the greenhouse works during two seasons – summer and autumn.
The Beridze family uses organic compounds instead of poison-chemicals. This is the technology that passes down from generation to generation. Tengiz learnt about this technology in Heretiskari, because due to the natural conditions of Zemo Adjara, he has never thought about having greenhouse production before.
The main advantage of the Beridze’s greenhouse and the main reason of its profitability is the fact that the cucumber harvest in the greenhouse comes when there is a lack of a similar product on the market. Tengiz gets harvest twice a year – in early summer or late autumn. During this time the cucumber price is higher, therefore, the family’s income is also higher. Tengiz and his wife work every day. Children also join to work when they have free time. If the family cannot handle certain work due to the lack of time, they hire 3-4 people for two or three months.
The Beridzes are constantly using modern technologies, trying to further improve their production. So far the family produces only cucumber, but they also think about gradual replacement of the product. The new products might be tomato, egg-pant, or others. In any case the greenhouse is designed for vegetable gardening.
Prepared by ENPARD Communication Unit