Rosetta Agro in Ukraine - from humanitarian aid to business development

Support of Ukrainian farmers in challenging times and plans for further development in Ukraine: Rosetta Agro and Puijk Berry Nurseries & Consultancy has united efforts to provide Ukrainian farmers with newest varieties of fruit and berries as well as with the trainings and consultancy to acheve the best results.

Within the past 10 years the berry industry in Ukraine has developed from a small niche to an adult export industry. Not only berries for the freezing industry are exported from Ukraine but also fresh berries, mainly blueberries. Blueberries are less sensitive than strawberries, raspberries and blackberries and therefore better to transport over far distances. Not only in Ukraine the blueberry area has expanded rapidly, but in whole Europe and in the whole world. That means that year around fresh blueberries can be consumed and suppliers are competing with each other in the international market.

The price of the blueberries in the supermarkets  consist of production costs, post-harvest costs, transport costs and marketing costs. First priority for every player in the production chain is to bring the product a step further in the chain, from producer to buyer to consumer, without losing quality. When the quality required is not being obtained and the product is lost, all the investments are lost. And that is why risks needs to be minimized and not making concessions on the quality of the production chain.

The second priority is to get a high margin which is the profit. For the berry producer, the highest margin can be obtained when the production per hectare will be increased. The investment costs and maintenance costs are more or less fixed and then the profit is made by getting the highest possible yield per hectare. And here the knowledge and management of the plantation is the key to success. The difference of losing money, break-even or make a good profit in Ukraine is when 4, 8 or 12 tons per hectare are produced.

In the Netherlands where berries are already being produced much longer than in Ukraine and more experience and knowledge is gained, the average yield per ha is around 15 tons. It is needed, because in the high season the blueberry prices can drop to 3 Euros, and when the picking costs are already € 2,00 to € 2,50 the rest of the costs can only be minimized when spread over a bigger quantity. For Ukraine we have a whole step to go to get 15 tons in Ukraine, Frederique Vogel, owner of Rosetta Agro, says. Due to the more extreme weather conditions in Ukraine compared to the Netherlands, 15 tons per hectare is maybe hard to get, but the past shows that that everybody can always increase the yield by gaining more knowledge and experience.


Rosetta Agro Frederique Vogel
Owner of Rosetta Agro - Frederique Vogel in the field with strawberries

How is Rosetta Agro getting through the war and how do you see business activities of Ukraine?

Frederique, answers that everybody was of course in shock on February 24th. Then  almost all orders were cancelled and the only thing we could do is starting collecting humanitarian goods here in the NL and try to find host families for Ukrainian refugee families. With the great help of Ukrainian and Dutch partners the goods were shipped straight to Lviv and Zhytomyr. But after 6 months, we need to think what commercial activities can be recovered and further developed,  now Ukraine needs to have businesses running more than ever. My husband and me are working already more than 30 years in Ukraine. We don’t know how soon, but Ukraine will get through this terrible time. The strength and resistance of our Ukrainian Rosetta Team and the Ukrainian people in general is amazing and an enormous motivation for us to continue.

Hans Puijk from Puijk Berry Nurseries and Consultancy
Hans Puijk from Puijk Berry Nurseries and Consuktancy

Since our company in Ukraine Rosetta Agro is involved with berries, we started to work in blueberry business in 2010 with nursery  Driesvenplant at the time, then  last 3 years with Fall Creek. We have seen how the berry industry developed from almost zero to where it is now. With our own demo-plot in Makariv we also gained ourselves experience and a lot of knowledge. We know what kind of fertilizers and crop protection materials are available in the Ukrainian local market. There are not many international specialised berry consultants. And the few ones present are very busy, hardly time to answer the questions, no time to take more clients and very expensive. Therefore we are very happy with the collaboration with Hans Puijk. Hans grew up in the berry business, is a berry producer himself, produces plants, has his own R&D,  and is international consultant. Together we have the right mix to offer 24/7 independent consultancy for a sharper price and speak the farmers language. First during Covid travel restrictions and now with the war the online meetings with physical visits of our Ukrainian team works out very well. Hans is specialized in blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, red currants and strawberries.  

We introduced Hans already during our Masterclass webinars during the COVID time. Hans and his brother are the third generation of berry growers. Their grandfather started as a hobby 40 years ago berry production and brought over his passion to his son and later to his grandsons. Hans worked after his university as a consultant in berry growing and worked with the multinational crop protection companies and fertilizer companies. That is also how he started his own R&D to see himself how products work out in different conditions. He started to consult growers in the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, the Balkans, Spain, Portugal, Marocco, India and now with us in Ukraine. Their own family farm started to expand especially the past 5 years to 63 ha of berry production and nurseries below the city of Utrecht, in the middle of the Netherlands. Because the Puijk family is producer of fresh berries themselves, knowledge of the whole production chain is taken in mind and the broad network in the small berry industry makes that Hans has direct access of what is happening in the market. Their berries, also the vulnerable raspberries and blackberries are exported through whole Europe.

Cherry Plantation Ukraine
Rosetta Agro Demo field Kyiv Region

During these very difficult times I am glad that we develop new commercial activities in Ukraine, Frederique says. The economy must go on and everybody has suddenly great respect for Ukraine. Therefore I am researching how we can promote Ukrainian products better in the Netherlands and in Europe. We know how the products are produced, that they are Global Gap, BRC or Organic certified and to increase the Ukrainian sales we should develop an Ukrainian brand. So that consumers buy Ukrainian products to support. We are looking forward to grow next year on our demo in Makariv also strawberries and raspberries. Next year I hope we will organize together with our Dutch partners a field day again where we invite our Ukrainian network to exchange our experiences and knowledge. We will continue, Frederique says, because I have many more ideas to work out but with the partnership with Hans Puijk we can improve our services to the Ukrainian berry growers.

Facefook page of Rosetta Agro:

Article in Ukrainian: Pages 14-15