“I walk slowly, but I never walk backward”
My name is Melano Dadalauri, I’m 25 years old and from Georgia. Agriculture and regional development is very important for my country. However, nowadays, Georgia’s agricultural sector faces many challenges. For example, there is the issue of rural depopulation. Agriculture is the least preferred sector for many youth, as the sector is currently too unproductive. Notably, the main source of income for rural population is derived from agriculture sector.
– This is the main reason why I have decided in my age to become an entrepreneur.
My roots lie in the rural areas as well. I temporarily ceased the connection with our village when I moved to the capital city of Georgia, Tbilisi to study at the university. However, when I graduated the university, I knew that I wanted to do something good for the development of agriculture sector through entrepreneurship – in order to be an example, inspire others and help create normal living conditions for the rural population.
The main reason of high level of poverty in the country is the fact that agriculture sector in Georgia is not yet modernized. The number of farming organizations are few and they’re not able to enjoy the benefits of economics of scale nor compete with imported produce.
So I started by growing mushrooms in a home. I already had the space for the greenhouse, so I was able to start up my business with just 200$. When I speak with the rural population, I often hear that millions are needed to to start a business. I wanted to prove that it was not so, and actually began to work with my bare hands. Through hard work and dedication, slowly my business began to expand. From my first profits, I was able to purchase more equipment to equip my hothouse even better. For example, this year we improved the heating and cooling systems. This is a big step forward, as mushrooms are very sensitive to temperature, humidity and air accumulated with nitrogen.
Since, then, different organizations and media helped me to promote my business. As a result, we received a great response and dozens of people throughout the country began the mushroom cultivation. People realized that they could build up a business, even with limited capital. We also had meetings with students and pupils in the regions. I am convinced that children should start thinking about entrepreneurship from a young age.
For example at my local market in the Kakheti region of Georgia, there is a high demand for mushrooms, whilst the supply is very low. Certain people grow mushrooms at home, but at a low quality. This is partly because growing mushrooms is not an easy process. For example, it is hard to regulate temperature and pressure while boiling the substrate. Also, it is hard to control and sustain the sterilization, to prevent the creation of unwanted bacteria in the substrate.
We recently received a small grant from the Ministry of Economy to improve our cooling and heating systems. A boiling pot for substrate would allow us to further maximize profits for myself and my fellow mushroom growers.
A 5,000$ grant will allow me purchase a pot for substrate preparation, as well as tools and equipment for the water heater. This allow me to produce large amounts of substrate at the same time, which will reduce production costs and increase productivity. Lastly, it will allow me to sell used sacks of substrate to other producers in my region. In other words, both myself and my neighbours would profit.
Even more importantly perhaps, I am very keen on building links with agricultural entrepeneurs from other countries at GCARD3. I am convinced that my participation in GCARD3 would be widely covered by Georgian media. This would further support the idea that in Georgia and elsewhere, agriculture offers a real perspective to ambitious young people from any background.
Blogpost and pictures submitted by Melano Dadalauri (Georgia) – melano.dadalauri(at)yahoo.com
The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.
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