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Boosting Moldovan agribusiness through energy efficiency

The EBRD is helping Moldova’s largest mushroom farm to be more competitive by cutting energy waste.

Agriculture has always played an important role in Moldova’s economy, employing more than 40 per cent of the working population and accounting for a third of the country’s export. Nevertheless the sector today produces only a third of Soviet times output.

Agribusiness is hindered by the lack of domestic energy resources which are largely used in agricultural industries and need to be imported at expensive prices. Not only are resources scarce, but Moldova is the least energy efficient country in Europe.

This is why energy efficiency is a priority for EBRD operations in Moldova and also a focus of the Bank’s TurnAround Management (TAM) Programme, which is dedicated to improving the management of small and medium-sized enterprises, many of which operate in the agro-industry.

Growing “green” mushrooms

Backed by funding from Sweden, the Moldovan TAM team has been assisting Histrios, the country’s largest producer of mushrooms, in identifying and implementing the best energy efficient technology for its farm and, at the same time, helping it to improve productivity and marketing with an eye to international exports.

“Cultivating mushrooms depends on strict humidity and temperature control.” explains Andrei Balan, the young director of the enterprise which employs 45 people. “The process of creating and maintaining an optimal “mushroom environment” therefore requires careful use of energy resources.”

Energy- and cost-saving technologies

The TAM team helped Histrios identify the most appropriate energy saving technology. The company decided to install a combined heat and power (CHP) station, which produces thermal energy and electricity that is used in the mushroom production process. This will reduce costs by up to 25 per cent a year – not to mention the contribution it will make to environmental protection by reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Thanks to energy savings and further TAM advice for a targeted marketing strategy, Mr Balan’s mushrooms may soon indeed conquer international markets.

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