Two vine-growers transformed their traditional vineyards into profitable business

March 29, 2022

It was a big hustle and bustle in Vadim Balan’s sunbathed vineyard from Mălăiești village, at the end of February. The harvest to be collected in autumn depends a lot on the viticultural works carried out at that time.

Vadim has decided to start up a business at home, on a piece of land which has not been processed over the last 17 years. This happened in 2012. Since then, Vadim is striving to grow various agricultural crops, including vines, but he understood that he needs modern equipment and innovative technologies to be able to develop a profitable business. Being just a beginner in farming, he could not afford all these, hence he started looking for opportunities to access some grants for vine-growing in line with Pergola system. Considering the impact of climate change, this innovative system for growing table grapes is the most recommended by specialists and contributes to an increasing of the harvest up to four times.

The opportunity appeared at the end of 2020, when the UNDP “Advanced cross-river capacities for trade” (AdTrade) project, funded by Sweden and United Kingdom, launched a call for grants dedicated to agricultural producers and processors from both sides of the Nistru river, to encourage them to adopt innovative technologies in their production process, hence increasing their competitiveness and possibility to access new markets. The call asked producers to associate, each established partnership being eligible for a $50,000 grant, and consultancy for business development.

So, Vadim Balan came up with the idea to set up a partnership with an experienced vine-grower, Vasile Dobrov, from Parcani village. Together, they put up a proposal and they accessed the grant, which they used to procure over 5,200 seedlings and to increase the vineyard area by 3 ha; they have also created a drip irrigation system for an area of about 8 ha, attended several training courses and built a modern cold storage facility for keeping the table grapes.

“To be competitive on foreign markets, we need products of high quality and adequately packed, which would be systematically supplied in big volumes. This can be achieved only through producers’ cooperation. Thus, we decided to join our efforts, especially taking into account that our vineyards are next to each other and we can mutually help with advice, exchange of agricultural techniques and joint procurement of fertilizers and other phyto-technical products at a good price,” mentioned Vadim.

The assistance obtained in the framework of AdTrade Project represented for Vadim Balan an opportunity to make a step forward in developing his business, implementing innovative technologies for growing table grapes according to Pergola system. “With the help of this innovative system, the grapes can be raised higher, hence we ensure a better airing for them, as well as a better protection against the burning sun, rain and mold. As well, thanks to the pillars, we can use the anti-hail nets to protect our crops”.

Several kilometers away from Vadim Balan’s farm, Vasile Dobrov grows his vines on an area of 15 ha. He has an experience of almost 16 years in agriculture, but it is just now, thanks to the financial assistance provided by Sweden and United Kingdom in the framework AdTrade Project, when he succeeded to fully restart his activity, after a long period of stagnation.

The call for grants offered to agricultural producers and processors from both banks of the Nistru river was a trigger for developing their business. “Thanks to the obtained financial support, we bought modern equipment for irrigating the vineyards, meaning that we are protected against droughts,” says Vasile. Droughts represent the biggest concern for farmers, as last year, due to drought, he had harvested only 100 tons of grapes, meaning half of the planned quantity.

The innovative system of irrigation and fertilizers which may be added during the drip irrigation process may contribute to developing further the business and increasing the quality of products offered to consumers, as the farmer focuses a lot on cropping ecological products.

“The quality of our product is our main priority. If buyers are pleased with our quality, they will come back for our products,” says Vasile Dobrov. When positive changes occurred in his vineyards, the farmer’s aspirations shifted as well: to increase the cropped areas, and thus to create more jobs and to increase export capacities.