Start date: Dec 31, 2001,
End date: Dec 30, 2004
The availability of high-quality natural and special berries varies a great deal from year to year. Berries being imported from Russia and domestic and Russian cloudberries becoming intermixed also affect the quality of the available berries. In order to improve the availability of berries, the ‘Cloudberry Farming and Base Selection Trial 1999–2000’ project was implemented, during which the possibility for cloudberry farming was researched. The goal of the Cloudberry 2002– 2004 project was to develop cloudberry farming and the picking of cloudberries and other natural berries and to develop the product concept in cooperation with a Russian partner in order to improve livelihood, operational possibilities and the availability of raw materials for rural businesses. The intention was to focus on the risk factors of farming, including pests, diseases, weeds, weak pollination and frost. Established cloudberry farms were planned to be expanded and farming technologies improved. The development work was to be done using farm crops and an experiment developed earlier at a research station. If necessary, natural cloudberry plots were also to be used. A profi tability calculation and marketing plan was to be made for every participating farm. The ultimate goal of the project was to develop a new farm plant for initial production, create marketable products for entrepreneurs and increase consumption of berries and berry products. It was necessary to create an uninterrupted quality chain for natural berries, from picking to refiner and consumer, in both Finland and Russia. It was estimated that the demand for fresh berries and berry products would be increased through further development of refining and by finding new uses for special berries. Achievements: The main emphasis of the project was on developing cloudberry farming into fi nancially profitable berry production. The farming technique was further developed as a joint effort, and crops were planted both in open fields and in greenhouses. Farming opportunities were also assessed using profitability calculations, and rights for environmental subsidies for cloudberries and cranberries were successfully negotiated. Development work was also completed through researching ecological properties of cloudberries, providing information, courses and educational trips. The new entrepreneurs were seen to be interested in growing cloudberries, and those that had already done so wanted to increase the crop area of their farms. Over 140 current and future entrepreneurs were trained during the project. The latest research information regarding farming cloudberries was transferred to the businesses participating in the project. In addition, these businesses also learned about product development and marketing. Entrepreneurs were motivated to undertake further product refining and development, and markets were sought through international cooperation and market research. Actual product development goals were not achieved during the project; however, product development was successfully initiated for fresh berries, frozen berries and berry products. The quality supply chain for picked natural cloudberries was initiated. Once the logistics are clear, more berries will be available for trade and refining in Kainuu. The project has brought informational capital to the advisory and training segment, which can be utilised in the future. Following the project, similar training has been provided in different parts of Finland. The projects operational model was seen as success and it is hoped that the development work will be continued in the future through a new project. The project governed by ProAgria Kainuu (Special Berries to the Market) did in fact receive funding for the years 2005 2007.
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