Interview Dmitry Lashin
“THIS YEAR WE BROKE THE RUSSIAN RECORD FOR GROWING TOMATOES AND NEXT YEAR IT WILL BE FOR CUCUMBERS”
‘If we don’t do it, someone else will do it tomorrow,’ is the motto of the young Russian entrepreneur Dmitry Lashin. And so he constantly expands his activities. From developing and selling climate computers for greenhouses to growing in his own greenhouses. And from growing himself to advising other growers about the Ultra-Clima greenhouse concept. Because this is what has suddenly made the harsh climate of Lipetsk much more productive. And this is how every time and situation offers new challenges and opportunities, as he told us on Skype.
“In 1991, following the collapse of the USSR, my father and uncle started the company FITO Agro that develops computer systems for regulating climate and irrigation in greenhouses. It went very well indeed – the computerised systems continued to get better and they sold well. By that time, I had also started to work at FITO Agro and in 2012 we realised that if we wanted further growth, we would have to export. But Russia had absolutely no reputation in the field of high-end agro technology. We could sell to Iran or Jordan but not to the US or Europe, even if our products were the best in the world.”
RECORD YIELD AT SUB-ZERO OUTDOOR TEMPERATURES
“That was when I thought that we would have to grow for ourselves. My father thought that it was a strange idea. He said, ‘Mercedes-Benz isn’t starting a taxi company, is it?’ But I was able to convince him and together with a partner we set up Lipetsk Agro. I wanted the most advanced greenhouse straight away. When visiting a customer, I had seen a beautifully made boiler room bearing the sticker Verkade Klimaat, so I phoned Ronald Verkade, told him my plans, and he introduced me to KUBO. They built our first 5 hectare greenhouse in 2013 and followed this in 2014 with a second 5 hectare greenhouse, and a 17 hectare greenhouse in 2016.
In 2017, we’ll be getting a 25 hectare greenhouse. So many greenhouses have never been built in such a short time in Russia. And they all use KUBO’s Ultra-Clima concept and FITO Agro’s climate computers. Our cold climate is no problem at all for Ultra-Clima which circulates heat from sunlight for energy-efficient heating. In spite of sub-zero outdoor temperatures, we achieved the highest tomato production in Russia: 92 kilos per square metre. And I know for sure that we’ll break the national record for cucumbers next year.”
NOT COMPETITORS BUT COLLEAGUES
“It’s funny to think that Ultra-Clima was developed for a totally different climate in California. And then mostly for keeping insects outside with its semi-closed system. That part of it is less interesting for us because the critters freeze to death here. But apart from that, Ultra-Clima means high yield and low energy consumption. And that’s important for every grower, everywhere in the world! Once our first greenhouse was opened, other growers came round to take a look and were blown away. That’s how our greenhouse became KUBO’s Russian showroom and I became their agent. My share in their sales is now more than 10%. Also, I don’t regard my fellow growers in Russia as competitors – our market is enormous. When you consider that Russia has only 1,500 hectares of greenhouses and the Netherlands has 9,000 hectares, you can see that there’s plenty of space for growth!”