Growing Roses in Gyumri: Expanding Greenhouse Business Urges Government to Reform Its Low-Cost Loan Program
Greenhouses are a relative newcomer to Armenia’s Shirak Province.
Just a few years ago, the first ones were built in the communities of Torosgyugh and Basen. Today, Tsolak Chadryan from Gyumri is growing roses in a greenhouse.
It’s a so-called "amateur" greenhouse, with an area of 560 square meters. Tsolak hired Samvel Mkrtchyan, an expert rose grower who moved to Gyumri nine years ago from the Aragatzotn village of Voskevaz.
Tsolak says he decided to try his hand at growing roses after meeting Samvel. His original plan was to grow vegetables.
Samvel smiles when he talks about roses. He says the plants have souls and pick up the vibes emanating from people.
"Three years ago, when I initiated this, everyone advised against it, since maintaining greenhouses was thought to be problematic in Shirak. But now it’s been shown that our province is the best for greenhouse use given our numerous sunny days and temperate heat,” says Tsolak.
Tsolak says there was another rose greenhouse in Gyumri, but it closed before he opened his. Samvel used to work there.
36-year-old Tsolak has two specialties - engineer-mechanics and financial planning . He used to work in government (Gyumri Municipality, Shirak Provincial Administration) and has some experience in the café business. He admits that he wasn’t satisfied with any of his past jobs.
"During my past career, I was a consumer. Roses made me turn from a consumer into a creator,” says Tsolak, adding that he is going to expand operations soon.
The new greenhouse, covering 5,000 square meters, will be ready in mid-October. Tsolak plans to grow more rose varieties.
Tsolak has taken on his friend Artyom as a partner in expanding the business.
The partners bought 2.3 hectares of land in Gyumri at an auction for 23 million drams. Currently, they plan to use one-fifth of the land.
To build the larger greenhouse, they’ve invested their savings. Loans comprise 30% of total expenditures on the project.
Tsolak points to a major flaw in the government’s current program for offering low interest loans to agricultural businesses.
“We now have to pay off a loan at 10.5%. We wanted to avail ourselves of the government’s program offering low cost agricultural loans but there’s the requirement that all equipment and other items to be purchased must be imported. They can’t be produced domestically. We’ve bought our drip-feed irrigation system from Israel and the computer from Russia. We could have purchased similar quality equipment here, from local producers,” he says.
Tsolak says that during his recent tour of Shirak, Armenian Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan visited the greenhouse and promised to help obtain a low-cost loan.
“To complete the work satisfactorily we need an additional 40 million drams. The minister promised to get us a 11% loan. Let’s see what happens. The bank we do business with has promised to drop our loan rate to 6%,” he says.
Tsolak says they plan to try their hand at selective rose breeding as well.
Samvel Mkrtchyan appears in top photo