The Ukrainian economy struggles every day. It is very difficult to maintain business in such circumstances, but it is of great importance, because the country needs an efficient economy. Roman Hirshfeld, President of HF Agro and LOZOVA MACHINERY, talks how the companies had to change their operations significantly in recent months. Despite the breaks in production and logistics chains, the energy crisis, forced migration, Ukrainian business continues to operate. The businesses optimize their costs, change their priorities, reorganize, but do not stop. The manufacturers of high-quality agricultural machinery, without which it would be difficult for the farmers to provide the country, and indeed the whole world, with food, had to quickly get back on track.
– How has HF Agro adapted to work in wartime?
– Last year, we began to actively gain momentum, and we planned to significantly expand production in 2022, put new products on the market, such as, these same GEKON disk harrows that were so warmly welcomed by the farmers at the AgroSpring 2022 exhibition. In addition, a large research program in agronomy and agrochemistry, which we developed together with a number of the country's universities, was on the roadmap. However, the war changed everything.
The most important thing is that we have kept our team. The managers are working actively: they are engaged in sales, advise clients, build new logistics chains in order to quickly deliver machinery to the buyers in Ukraine and abroad. The marketing team selects and systematizes a huge amount of up-to-date information, studies the markets, changes in customer needs under the circumstances. Our designers continue to look for new solutions for Ukrainian and European agriculture industry, and we have an excellent team of design engineers who develop tools based on many years of experience. All our employees continue to work! The HF Agro team has worked hard and learned a lot during this time. Moreover, our staff has become even larger, because we are expanding production and increasing operations.
– Where is the HF Agro production based now?
– HF Agro is a company with flexible production, which is based in different countries, including Ukraine, and the products for our market are assembled already here. We focus on global resources and practices; we work with the most interesting and innovative companies. This allows us to produce machinery with the most individual approach to local conditions. Now we are expanding: in these three months, we have prepared and launched a new production line in Poland. For now, it will be the release of GEKON disk harrows. Poland is a very active and growing market, and is considered favourable in terms of business environment. We have successfully entered the European market; the trade situation has been simplified due to the ideal transit and logistics location between the countries of Western and Eastern Europe.
– In your opinion, how much the farmers are interested in disk harrows and, in particular, GEKON?
– Disk harrows are a very popular piece of machinery in Ukraine and in other countries, as it is a multifunctional and practical unit. Therefore, the competition in this segment is also very high.
We predict that the line of GEKON disk harrows will become the flagship of HF Agro, will successfully compete with experienced giants both in the Ukrainian market and in the foreign market. Why? First, GEKON works perfectly: it keeps the specified working depth, follows the contour and perfectly levels the field, while the working tools are not clogged. Second, it is a maintenance-free machinery with securely sealed bearing assemblies and automatic adjustment and locking systems. That is, we have simplified the operation as much as possible. An operator does not need to leave the cab to make any adjustments – everything is automated! Absolutely all swivel joints (and this piece of machinery has many) do not require lubrication: this is a huge saving in time and maintenance costs. At the design stage, we paid attention to every detail in order to get a reliable, high-quality product at the end.
– What other HF Agro machinery is relevant for the Ukrainian and European farmers?
– Honestly, the dynamics of sales of agricultural machinery in the Ukrainian market has decreased for obvious reasons. Today, the farmers are not as actively renewing their fleet of agricultural machinery as they were before the war. This agricultural season, the farmers have focused their resources on a system of measures to increase the yield. Therefore, in the spring we had good shipments of fertilizer spreaders and applicators for liquid fertilizers. Now, in summer and autumn, it is time to sow green manure, winter crops, apply fertilizers – therefore, seeders and units for applying granular fertilizers are very relevant. That’s where we have something to offer the farmers! Besides our own production, we are the official representative of the German manufacturer of pneumatic seeders, LEHNER, in Ukraine. By installing a seeder on any tractor, you will be able to complete several operations in one pass. When harvesting, ploughing, disk tillage, compacting or cultivating, you can sow, undersow or fertilize right away. LEHNER produces versatile and efficient machinery. It can be used for sowing small or large material, and for applying granular fertilizers.
Sales in Europe are now going better. Disk harrows, swing ploughs, and field rollers are in great demand. In addition, fertilizer spreaders are also shipped off.
– What are the plans for the Company's development?
– To make plans during the war is the most difficult thing. We do not know what state the regions will be in for the next little while, when the war will end and what the post-war period will be like. Nevertheless, we are persistent and follow our own line – as we planned to release a new line of GEKON disk harrows from the beginning of the year, so we did not abandon the idea during the war. I'll go further than that, we have already launched a whole range of units with a working width of 3, 5 and 6 meters.
We will continue to expand our dealership network in Ukraine so that our machinery is supplied to as many regions of the country as possible.
We plan to strengthen our positions abroad. We bring our production to several EU countries and Canada to make products even more accessible to the local farmers.
The main thing is not to stand still, but to move forward, overcoming difficulties. We believe that it’s going to be all right for our country and that we will implement all our plans!
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