Left to right, Tritan Cako, ABMC executive director, entrepreneur Genci Mita and Ylli Biçoku, IFDC consultant. These tunnels, former military installations, make ideal dark structures for growing mushrooms.
Genci Mita, owner of Sejega Fruit and Vegetable Processing Company, started his fruit and vegetable processing business in 1994 and became one of the largest processors and exporters in Albania. He has successfully tapped into the Albanian markets by adopting helpful technologies. Moreover, he has expanded his product line by adding and effectively promoting fresh and processed mushrooms.
Diversifying his business in 2001, he started to import mushrooms for processing from several European markets and from China. Mita is very entrepreneurial; market research he conducted about foreign and local markets during the last 10 years made it clear that his best course of action was to start growing mushrooms in a way that would be more sustainable and efficient.
Mita used his financial resources and a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food for Progress program (Albania Credit Enhancement Fund), implemented by IFDC, and the Association and Business Management Center to start his expansion. He renovated two former army tunnels (built during the communist regime as military tank repair facilities) and added shelves needed for mushroom production to the tunnels.
His plan is to produce 25 metric tons (mt) of mushrooms in 2011 and to double that production in 2012. Mita’s objective is that in two to three years he will be able to produce 100-150 mt of mushrooms annually. He wants to be the largest mushroom producer in Albania, which will lead to more local employment, coupled with increased profits for his company.
“A small grant from USDA/IFDC/ABMC helped my company,” said Mita. “This USDA grant allowed Sejega Company to design and build a mushroom production line with quality standards and my production costs are 50 percent less than imported mushrooms.”
Once Mita has fine–tuned the technology, he hopes to produce fresh mushrooms for consumption in the local market as well.