ASTANA – Fermerskaya produkciya (Farm products) agricultural cooperative, composed of 20 farmers from Tselinograd district and Yereymentau and Bulandy districts in Akmola region, is a way for them to combine their efforts and discover a new and innovative way to sell their products to capital residents. The farmers have established the Ecoferma (Ecofarm) brand and created the website ecoferma.kz to deliver goods right to their customers.
“I am a farmer, as are my colleagues. The problem was that we could not sell our products in the city. Markets are full, shops are full. Large supermarkets do not work with small batches. They need a lot; packing and certificates, branding, there are a lot of requirements. So, we decided to unite farmers like me into a cooperative. We are a sort of a union of farmers,” said farmers’ co-op chairperson Adilzhan Nugmanov in an interview with The Astana Times.
The cooperative sells meat, poultry, milk products, bread, eggs, vegetables, fruits and berries. Different sets of products are also available.
“We will not write loud words about the environmental friendliness, harmlessness and huge benefits of our products, but it is hard to find something more natural than our products,” notes the co-op’s website.
Ecofarm does not use chemicals, basically growing everything the old-fashioned way. Every farmer works for his name and is responsible for the quality of his product.
“Each of our products goes through laboratory testing once a month. Every customer can witness certificates and corresponding papers. They can make sure we do not use antibiotics in products, no growth accelerators or additives,” said Nugmanov.
“Genetically modified, grown in an industrial way with etched seeds and chemically-processed products displayed in the supermarket and in the city bazaars, are certainly more beautiful than ours, but ours are tastier and healthier,” notes the website.
The co-op claims its kumys (fermented horse milk) is not mixed with water, nor has any sugar been added to its honey.
“Our team monitors the quality of products constantly,” said Nugmanov.
As for the prices, some items are cheaper, while others are more expensive. The cost of sour cream, for example, is higher than that produced in milk factories, as making one litre requires processing 15-20 litres of milk. The farmers have managed to reduce the cost, however, since the same milk is used to make non-fat cottage cheese.
“Milk is cheaper than in shops; sour cream is more expensive, since it is 100-percent natural with no additives,” said Nugmanov.
Ecofarm was formed in August and active sales began in March. Products are currently sold exclusively through its website.
“I have to say things are good. We don’t even have enough time sometimes. We have a lot of orders. But now demand has decreased a little, I guess because of the vacation season. But we have big plans. We have land (provided by the state) and we will build facilities this year and will be handling large volumes,” said Nugmanov.
The co-op mainly promotes itself via social networks. Farmers do not want to start a major marketing campaign, because they are not yet able to take many orders.
Delivery is two times a week on Tuesdays and Friday and conditions can be discussed individually. Additional information and prices can be found at ecoferma.kz.