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The Agrari farm in Georgia grows up to 30 tons of oyster mushrooms per month

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Spartak Mkrtchyan is a famous mushroom grower in Georgia. He started growing mushrooms back in the late 90s and today he has been growing mushrooms for 25 years. His company grew up to 20 tons of champignons a month, but in 2010, larger competitors, the Tetri Kudi company, convinced him to sell the company and move to Tetri Kudi.

However, working as an employee for Spartak turned out to be difficult – the entrepreneurial spirit made itself felt, and in parallel with working at the Tetri Kudi, he tried to organize his own business. This desire soon resulted in a project to raise rabbits. With his partner, Spartak took out a loan under the “Produce in Georgia” program in force in Georgia, which allows you to take out a loan at 1% per annum. “Of course, I would like to continue growing champignons,” says Spartak, but we did not want tense relations with competitors.

The “rabbit” business forced him to leave the mushroom farm, because the owners were against the employees having an additional business. That’s why Spartak left Tetri Kudi.

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But when investors appeared who were ready to invest in the construction of a new mushroom farm, his partner Vano Ioseliani and he set about making it happen.

But we decided not to compete with champignon and go for oyster mushrooms. Fortunately, the market seemed empty – those oyster mushroom producers who worked in the country worked seasonally, with small volumes and unstable quality.

“By that time, I already had some experience in growing oyster mushrooms,” says Spartak, “and knew some consultants whose help I could count on.”

A site measuring 3 hectares was chosen, near Tbilisi. The only option for building a farm for the production of oyster mushrooms was the simultaneous construction of a substrate plant with the construction of a farm. The company was given the name “Agrary ltd”

We ordered the project and equipment from DME (DME sells used and refurbished equipment), and began construction of a complex consisting of a substrate production and a cultivation farm with 9 growing rooms.

“When choosing the size of the room, we proceeded from the desired amount of mushroom per period, the size of the growing chambers corresponding to the pasteurization tunnels, and the desire to do everything economically,” says Spartak.

The result was 9 growing chambers 45 meters long and 7 meters wide, with racks like on a champignon farm. “Champignon” racks were chosen because only they provided us with a sufficient ratio of the amount of substrate in the room to the area of the room. A scheme with two rows of racks 5 shelves high was chosen. But even so, we miscalculated a little – we expected to put 40 tons of substrate per room, but in fact we end up with 33-34 tons of substrate per room. Overall, the growing chambers turned out well, the only thing we probably need to change is the humidification. We installed high-pressure nozzles, but the water drop is still large and we see how this affects the crop. “I would prefer steam humidification,” says Spartak.

The substrate workshop consists of a platform, two bunkers and one pasteurization tunnel. And equipment – hoppers, loaders, briquetting machines.

The total cost of the project was about two and a half million dollars.

The start of production was in the summer of 2022. The first filling of the substrate was made in August 2022 and the first harvest was obtained in September. “Everything went very well from the start,” says Spartak. The yields averaged 30% of the substrate weight. ”But last summer, the farm had big problems with green mold infestation; it took some time to understand the reasons and overcome the infection. Its OK now.

Many experts helped Spartak to understand the details of the oyster mushroom production technology – Alexey Tishchenkov from the Mushroom School, Jorge Calvo from Silvan. Consultant Larisa Teslenkova has helped us a lot lately. Despite some difficulties with the substrate that we encountered, thanks to our expert friends, we collected very decent yields of more than 30%.

The choice of oyster mushroom strains is limited by suppliers – at the moment, only the Silvan company has been able to provide stable supplies. Silvan supplies Kryos, Fotios and HK35 from Turkey in winter and Ivory and Etna in summer.

The company today produces 27-30 tons of oyster mushrooms per month and supplies it to the Georgian market. “The demand is good,” says Spartak, “there isn’t even enough product. It’s true that there is currently a shortage of champignons on the Georgian market.” The average price of oyster mushrooms now on the Georgian market is 8 lari per kilogram, which is approximately 3 dollars.

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