By Nina Tsintsadze
A typical day in the life of the farmers at Terrarica in Moldova now looks very different to how it used to just a couple of months ago. The working schedule remains the same: from sunrise to sunset. But the new normal requires employees to don gloves and face masks, regularly use hand sanitisers and work in groups of no more than three people. Daily thermal screening and vehicle disinfection is also now the name of the game.
The EBRD and the European Union (EU) supported Terrarica in moving towards its company mission. While the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic has changed the mode of working at the company, the goal to contribute to the food security of Moldova and beyond remains the same.
New technology for increased productivity
Nestled in the picturesque village of Onițcani, Terrarica is a young agricultural enterprise established just a couple of years ago. Wheat, corn, sunflower and rape are being harvested on land partly rented from locals. By now the company has grown to process around 940 hectares of land – around 50 per cent more than in previous years.
With more land comes the need for more sophisticated technology. A joint financing facility of the EBRD and the EU helped the company to purchase machinery for agriculture production, including new tractors, auxiliary equipment for cultivating and discing, crop field sprayers and a GPS navigation system, all of which make farming look like an expertly-choreographed dance.
“Access to affordable financing is critical for any SME’s growth and development. The new equipment helped us to increase efficiency and productivity. We can now cultivate more, and more efficiently look after our harvest,” says Director of Terrarica, Maxim Vrabie.
Fostering food security in Moldova
The EU4Business-EBRD Credit Line targets small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Moldova, Georgia and Ukraine supporting investments in modern equipment to European standards.
The SMEs can access loans through local partners in their respective countries – in this case, Mobiasbanca – and after successful investment can receive a grant of up to 15 per cent of the loan, funded by the EU under the EU4Business initiative.
“The grant incentive and free of charge technical support gave us an unprecedented opportunity not only to invest in modernising our equipment, but with the help of technical expert advice, we managed to increase the health and safety standards for our workers and customers across the entire production process,” adds Vrabie.
To date, more than 470 companies in the three countries have accessed financing from the facility. In Moldova, 55 per cent of the projects are in the agriculture and agro-industry sectors.
For Terrarica, what started as an effort to increase productivity and export potential last year has suddenly turned into a system-wide solution that contributes to securing the food supply in Moldova with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic this year.
“We will tell this story to our grandchildren… How, in a matter of weeks, our daily lives and working rules were transformed, “says Vrabie.
“The satisfaction of a rich harvest while contributing to this very important goal keeps me and every employee of my company motivated and raring to go.’’