Champignons a la Kursk
Delicious, nutritious, healthy – it is all about champignons. These mushrooms of Italian origin can be often seen on shop shelves. According to the statistics, champignon consumption in Russia keeps growing year after year and it is not likely to slow down. Gribnaya Raduga, a unique enterprise engaged in growing champignons in Kursk oblast, is going to give a helping hand with keeping the champignon consumption on the rise. The company experts have shown us how the fungi are cultivated and shared the secrets of delectable dishes.
Riding the wave of import substitution
‘Initially, our enterprise was located in Ukraine, but we could not save the business due to the military actions in 2014’, says Ivan Popov, Chief Engineer of Gribnaya Raduga. ‘And it made us think about starting our own champignon production in Russia. Back then, the Russian mushroom industry was in its infancy. Our management evaluated the prospects for the Russian mushroom market and found that it was far from abundance. The food embargo imposed in 2014 only fueled our desire to develop mushroom production in Russia.’
Nothing ventured, no fungi collected
Due to some historical and geographic preconditions, they decided to start producing mushrooms in Kursk oblast in 2015. The regional administration approved the project implementation and the company management ventured into a brand-new business. The first greenhouse for champignon production with the capacity of 3,000 tonnes per year was opened in 2017. One year later, the second greenhouse was put into operation, enabling the production of 9,000 tonnes of fungi per year and the third greenhouse was launched this year. However, they are not going to stop at this point – in 2020, the enterprise is planning to open the fourth greenhouse. Today, Gribnaya Raduga is ranked number one among Russian mushroom producers, being the leader in terms of product quality and quantity and having a 20% market share. Currently, around 18,000 tonnes of mushrooms are grown here annually. Not only Kursk citizens appreciated Gribnaya Raduga’s products - residents of Moscow, Saint Petersburg, Irkutsk and the entire Central Black Soil region also took to the Kursk champignons which can be found in large chain stores.
‘AgroCentreLiski is our first partner, who helped us to take off’, continues Ivan Popov. ‘In 2016, we purchased JCB telehandlers which facilitated preparing raw materials quickly. The machinery is sturdy and reliable and we are content with its quality. The cooperation with the company makes us happy, its specialists never leave us handling troubles alone.’
According to Ivan Popov, Gribnaya Raduga has recently become the proud owner of the JCB 541-70 Agri Pro telehandler, a new unparalleled unit.
‘The model is unique owing to its JCB DualTech VT hybrid transmission which can function in both hydrostatic and hydromechanic modes’, relates Aleksandr Logvinov, Director of Kursk branch of AgroCentreLiski. ‘Thus, the range of uses is increased. The hydrostatic drive ensures splendid control at low speeds and the PowerShift drive provides high efficiency and towing at high speeds.’
Ivan Popov also highlighted one more distinctive feature of the telehandler – the Smart Hydraulics system. It helps to save fuel and use carefully certain telehandler joints and mechanisms, notably the telescopic boom. This system ensures gentle shaking of the bucket, thus providing its better emptying when tipping over the boom carriage, and it precisely fixes the boom upon its retraction.
Producing champignons is a complicated process requiring exceptional skills. The recipe for this business is not that simple.
‘Fungiculture is one of the most high-tech kinds of agricultural activities’, says Denis Dzyuba, Chief Technician of the compost room at Gribnaya Raduga. ‘We are the first to have created a unique full-cycle production in Russia which includes making our own compost and casing soil, cultivating champignons and selling the products.’
The enterprise is based on Dutch technologies and fitted with cutting-edge equipment. The champignon farm consists of a champignon room and a compost room situated at the distance of 500 metres from each other. The latter is designed for preparing compost and it includes a mixing hall, a hall for loading and unloading, a laboratory, special bins and tunnels for compost pasteurisation and tempering. The champignon room comprises growing chambers, blast freezers and a cold store. The fungi are cultivated on shelves in special chambers each of which has its own autonomously maintained microclimate. All of these build the complex automated flow production.
Gribnaya Raduga controls the mushroom production quality at many levels during all technological stages.
‘We grow natural, eco-friendly, non-GM products without using chemicals which is proved by the Declarations of conformity’, comments Denis Dzyuba. ‘We are also first among Russian mushroom companies to receive the ecological certificate from Rosekostandart. It confirms the product environmental safety complying to the respective norms during production, storage and transportation of the products.’
In 2018, the enterprise employed a food safety management system based on HAACP and ISO 22000 principles.
Currently, around a thousand specialists work at Gribnaya Raduga. The young and energetic team is satisfied with the salaries, work conditions and career opportunities.
‘Our company is increasing and developing’, shares Ivan Popov. ‘So should be the people. We frequently organise professional trainings for our employees. It often happens that former greenhouse workers become relevant department managers. Our staff members are the people to appreciate and to be proud of. It is impossible to keep abreast of the times and boost production figures without a reliable team. We can boast about such a team, and we are grateful for this to each of our employees.’
Finally, specialists from Gribnaya Raduga shared one of their favourite mushroom recipe – we suggest you trying it as well.
- Champignons, rinsed and roughly chopped – 1 kg
- Onions, sliced into half-moons – 400 g
- Vegetable oil – to taste
- Salt, pepper – to taste
- Garlic, crushed – 2-3 cloves
Pour some oil onto the heated frying pan and sauté the onions until translucent, then transfer them onto a plate. Fry the fungi in the same frying pan for 10-15 minutes. Then season the mushrooms with pepper and salt and puree them along with the onions in a kitchen processor until smooth. Add the garlic and mix thoroughly. Serve with toasts.