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The Green Shoots of Growth in Georgia: Hydroponic Farming with EU Support

Growing Georgian vegetables by employing the latest European technologies – this is the motto of Imereti Greenery, a Dutch-Georgian enterprise located in western Georgia, which has benefited from EU support for its development under the EU4Business initiative, seeing production and profits soar as a result, owner of the enterprise is Natia Khelaia. 

Since its establishment, the enterprise has been gradually expanding its greenhouse coverage and now occupies 2 hectares of territory in the city of Samtredia. Lettuce and cucumber here is grown by following hydroponic farming – a modern method of agriculture where crops are cultivated without soil by using mineral nutrients in a water solvent. Smart use of geothermal waters makes farming at Imereti Greenery way more efficient and responsible. The clients of the enterprise comprise of the major supermarket chains and high-class hotels in Georgia.

EU4Business and the EBRD are part of the company’s success story: with the EBRD’s Advice for Small Businesses programme back in early 2016, the enterprise introduced modern accounting standards which made financial reporting much effective and relations with banks much more successful.

Following implementation of the project, production was up 75%, profits rose 380% and the number of staff grew by 129%.

On the back of the accounting changes, the enterprise was also able to secure financing for LED lightning lighting for growing corps in winter, and is now eyeing even further growth: additional space for greenhouse in Imereti and expansion to Samegrelo region.

“We are proud that we are generating job opportunities for locals of the region. Regional development is critical for our country. Each new job can bring real difference to lives of one, two and maybe even more families and communities,” adds Natia Khelaia, the director of Imereti Greenery. Future plans of Imereti Greenery include substituting imports and exporting to the neighbouring countries.

EBRD Advice for Small Businesses

The EBRD Advice for Small Businesses programme, funded in the Eastern Partnership countries by the EU under its EU4Business initiative, aims to promote good management in the SME sector by providing assistance to individual enterprises, helping them to grow their businesses. It supports SMEs to make structural changes and develop new business skills, helping them to thrive and compete in market economies. The programme also enables SMEs to access local consulting services on a cost-sharing basis by providing grants of up to €10,000.