In Roscani village, Anenii Noi, for over 3 years, Aurelia Cecoi, together with her family cultivate over 50 ha of vegetables (potatoes, onion, carrot, cabbage and beets). Although there is still a long way to go, as the farmer herself asserts, the vegetables cultivated by the Cecoi family can already be found in the biggest supermarket networks in the country. Visiting Roscani, we met Aurelia in the field, following closely how the harvest of onions is collected by modern equipment, this year being the first season when the agricultural enterprise gave up on hiring people to collect the crops.
Aurelia Cecoi was not always involved or passionate about agriculture. Until last year, Ms Cecoi was working as an accountant at a company in Chisinau, where she also lived with her family. „I was always a supporter of my husband and my father in their passion for agriculture, but I was not very involved in the family business. One year ago however, I understood that my wage, which was 6000 lei will not create us any opportunities for growth. The future is here, in agriculture. So I left the office in Chisinau and moved to live here, in the village, at least for the busiest periods of the year. A lot of work gets done until our vegetables reach the shelves in supermarkets. Aside from growing vegetables, we also pass various certifications, we do the bookkeeping and paperwork, apply to difference development projects, in other words, we work a lot,” confesses Aurelia Cecoi, Water User Association member from Roscani.
Out of the 47 hectares with vegetables, 8 hectares are with white and golden types of onion. „This year we expect a harvest of 50 tonnes per hectare, at least”. Concerning the opportunities to sell it, Aurelia claims that intermediate agencies are already expecting the vegetables, which will subsequently be distributed in supermarket networks across the country, such as Metro, Kaufland, Linella, etc. „From the very beginning we tried to target a bigger market for our vegetables, there is no point in going to the local market with so much harvest. Because we know very well the way we cultivate the crops, what fertilizers and herbicides we use, we are not worried about the certification of our products,” explains Ms Cecoi.
An essential factor which contributed to the consolidation of the family business is the centralized irrigation system from Roscani, rehabilitated during Compact program. „We decided to invest in a region with fewer risks, and here in Roscani we have access to water due to the centralized irrigation system. By using the drip irrigation method, in this season we irrigated the onion 5-7 times. Irrigation is indeed essential, without any doubt. Regardless of how many fertilizers you use, how much you invest in high-quality seeds, last generation equipment, without water, all these are futile. What is the point of investing so much in technology and fertilizers if you become dependent on climate conditions?” reflects Ms Aurelia.
At the same time, the technological modernization and mechanization of the collection and sorting process of vegetables made a big difference in our work. „The fact that we are not dependent on people to collect and sort out the onion helped us to be faster, more flexible and efficient. It became harder to find workforce for our agriculture needs and we believe that we chose the right direction when we decided to replace the human factor with modern equipment.”
According to Aurelia, agriculture is not an activity where women can’t succeed. „My husband and father have the ability to see the bigger picture, in perspective. On the other hand, I tend to pay more attention to the details, and in this way I think we function very well as a team. I can spend my weekends decorating our storage unit, take care of bills, registers. Recently we have also decided to have selective trash bins to separate plastic, glass, paper and I spent some time decorating them.”
One year since she left her main city job for a full time commitment to the family business in agriculture, Aurelia Cecoi claims that she doesn’t regret her choice. „From 10 hectares in 2016 we have grown to 47 hectares in 3 years. Agriculture is the future and I am happy that I discovered this passion at the right moment. Now we’re going through a tougher time, the investments are big, but I am confident we will overcome. I am aware that we will not gain big profits in the following 3-4 years, because we have invested so much in new equipment and machinery, but we’re sure we will manage. For the future, we would really like to own a refrigerator room for vegetables, as well as to expand our lands and consolidate our small family business,” concludes on a cheerful note Ms Cecoi.