“As a general rule, the first tomato plants from Finland would have been brought here, there would be bumblebees and everything would have happened, all the preparations for the new vegetable season, but there is nothing at the moment,” said Lāsma Bekina, the owner of the vegetable greenhouses "Rītausma".
The first tomato harvest in Jēkabpils municipality greenhouses is normally at the end of April, but last year, because of the energy crisis, the company postponed cultivation and started selling vegetables only in June. Also this year, tomato and cucumber planting in greenhouses hasn't yet started.
“Last year, the cost of heat was unpayable for the customer, let alone us. For us to grow what we can realize, it was unrealistic,” Bekina said.
All Rītausma greenhouses currently have gas heating.
“This is the greenhouse built in the 80s. It has served its time, it is much lower, and a lot cooler. It's like going through a shed where the heat goes out and you can't keep the temperature you need. And also technologically, we are limited here because the old greenhouses are lower,” said Bekina.
The vegetable grower said that crises make farming more creative, but the company has no resources to restore greenhouses in existing economic conditions.
Production costs for the farm increased by two-thirds, estimated Bekina, but the final price has not increased proportionally and the company is forecasting losses for the second season. There is also no room for its own biogas cogeneration plant in the territory of the enterprise.
"We are limited on all sides. There's a river on the one hand, there's a road on the other, an industrial zone on another side, a residential home on another side. Similarly, for the same biomass, we cannot produce anything specifically here, then we have to start collecting around everybody who grows something nearby and then use something because we need very high capacity here," said Bekina.
Latvia has a total of around 10 farms cultivating vegetables in large areas, and part are also doing so in winter with additional lighting and heat produced, said Jānis Bērziņš, head of the Latvian Gardener Association, and estimated that the price of vegetables is not likely to rise.
"In general, producers are informed that their price for cucumbers is even 15% lower than in the previous season. Tomatoes are at last year's level. This is the price that the producer receives, and what is happening on the market is in the hands of traders. Unfortunately, despite all the increases in energy,[..] it must be sold at the price agreed," said Bērziņš.
The Cēsis greenhouse Kliģeni also indicated that the cultivation of vegetables will be postponed for a month this year due to expensive heating, since the heating of these greenhouses is mainly gas heating.