The Business Year

Tahir Gozal

AZERBAIJAN - Agriculture

Down In The Garden

Head, Green Tech

Bio

Tahir Gozal graduated from the Management faculty of Sheffield University in 1994 and Sup De Co University in France in 1995. He started his career at the Sun Tea company in Dubai in 1995 as General Coordinator and worked in this position until 2000. He was then promoted to the position of Vice President in Sun Tea. Since 2002, he has worked as Vice President of Middle East Petroleum. He is also the Chairman of the Board of Cross Caspian. Since 2004, he has been Vice-President of Garabakh Football Club. In 2010, Gozal founded the modern greenhouse company Green Tech near Baku.

TBY talks to Tahir Gozal, Head of Green Tech, on its new warehousing complexes, innovation and new technologies, and certifications.

Could you describe the launch of Green Tech’s greenhouse complex?

Green Tech is a modern glass-coated greenhouse complex launched in Azerbaijan in 2011. We grow seedlings, fresh vegetables, and mainly tomatoes. Our greenhouse complex is fitted with cutting-edge processing equipment. Our company has achieved maximum efficiency using the latest technology; therefore, it is playing an important part in providing the population with quality products. Ever since the first day of operations, the enterprise has attached special importance to increasing production volume and productivity. At the moment, the area of the company’s greenhouses has been expanded to 200,000sqm. There is also a warehouse covering an area of 400sqm, which enables high-quality storage and processing of our products.

What does Green Tech do to enable the cultivation of healthy products in its greenhouse complex?

Our slogan is “Healthy products mean a healthy life.” To obtain healthy products, we give preference to the application of various biological techniques to fighting parasites rather than using chemical methods. At the same time, bees carry out plant pollination naturally. One of the most widespread food safety systems used worldwide is the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP). It is an important tool enabling identification, evaluation, and control over food safety risk factors. The HACCP is considered the most efficient system of exercising control over food safety.

What international quality certificates has Green Tech obtained for its products?

Green Tech has recently obtained the food safety certificate to conform with ISO 22000 standard from the renowned SGS company, thereby confirming that it complies with the most stringent food safety requirement. The ISO 22000:2005 Food Safety Management System standard for us is a benchmark in terms of the quality of customer service, continuous improvement of our staff and customer satisfaction, and effective management of our main processes.

How would you evaluate the impact of state-of-the-art technologies available at your greenhouse complex on production?

In contrast to the greenhouses used in previous years, the Green Tech greenhouse complex operates on the basis of innovative technologies. This allows us the opportunity to receive an extra 10% of the sunlight, maintain the microclimate in the warehouse using a cutting-edge computerized system, and save on electricity consumption by utilizing greenhouse gases. These and other unique innovations will lead to increased productivity and economize on consumables and labor intensity.

What impact does your enterprise have on the social well being of surrounding communities?

In addition to applying the best practices to this area, the Green Tech greenhouse complex is also doing its best to improve the socioeconomic prosperity of the population in suburban settlements of Baku. In particular, more than 300 residents of such settlements have been provided with jobs, which means a source of income for 300 households. Also, by manufacturing high-quality products, Green Tech is also contributing to food security of the country.

Where do you export Green Tech’s products?

The vegetables produced by our enterprise are mainly exported to and valued very highly in Russia. You can come across high-quality Green Tech products in a number of Russian cities. As the area of our greenhouse complex expands and production capacity increases, we will certainly further broaden the geography of our exports. I can say with full confidence that our products can compete with their counterparts in any part of the world.

How can you assess the role of the state in the development of the Green Tech greenhouse complex?

Of course, it would have been impossible to achieve all this without the continuous support of our government and President HE Ilham Aliyev. We received a concessional loan from the National Fund on Entrepreneurship Support for the establishment of our enterprise. In addition, the tax breaks provided to agricultural producers are a great incentive for us. As a result of this support, our enterprise has embarked on the construction of its third 10-ha greenhouse, and this project will be successfully completed in the coming months. Starting from 2015, we will grow such vegetables as different varieties of tomato, eggplants, and green peppers. We intend to increase our production capacity to 12,000 tons this year.

Is the greenhouse complex a profitable business?

The greenhouse complex is a part of agriculture, which means that, in order for it to bring you an income, you have to invest all your time and effort into it. You cannot succeed in any business if you do not have affection for it. You have to love nature, plants, flowers, and trees, otherwise you cannot be a successful businessman in this sphere. Therefore, I urge everyone who loves nature to pay more attention to this field. I would also like to express my gratitude to President HE Ilham Aliyev for the permanent attention paid to agricultural development. The produce grown in greenhouse complexes in Azerbaijan are exported to foreign countries, and this contributes to enhancing the country’s export potential.

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