“Important to pay attention to the smallest details,” Agil Karimov

A grower’s commitment to producing the best roses in Azerbaijan

It was 2018 when the AzRose LLC  greenhouse was built. Since then, the rose grower has established itself as one of the leading producers in Azerbaijan. “We grow year-round over 12 different rose varieties with 15-20.000 stems in a day,” says Agil Karimov with AzRose. Setting up such an impressive infrastructure wasn’t a piece of cake. “This is a very high-tech greenhouse,” he continues. “To have high-quality roses, it is of the utmost importance to pay attention to the smallest details. That’s why all the processes here are automated, and everything is controlled through a centralized computer.”

Climate control and lighting
The AzRose greenhouse is built 200 km away from Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, and is 750 m above sea level. “This is the perfect altitude to grow roses,” continues Agil. “The climate also is perfect for that, except for July and August. In those months temperatures are quite hot. So, climate control was a challenge initially. On the other hand, throughout the rest of the year, temperatures are good and we can control the climate quite easily.”

When the greenhouse was being set up, the LED technology wasn’t as good as it is nowadays. “We grow our roses under HPS,” Agil continues. “Besides LED technology not being up to the job years ago, HPS provides us with the perfect spectrum for all the growth stages. At the same time, we are considering going for a hybrid solution, also because HPS operational costs are quite high.”

Cultivation at AzRose is constantly evolving not only with regards to light but also to crop protection. “Initially, we used pesticides,” he says. “Yet, our government has started banning them, as well as being not much accepted internationally. On top of that, pesticides and insecticides disrupt our growing process, so you can’t use them all on a rose farm. Thus, last year we started an IPM regiment based on biological control. We couldn’t do this before because there wasn’t a supplier in the region that we could get our beneficials from. Now that there is, everything has been changed, and we can easily prevent common issues such as thrips, spider mites, whiteflies, powdery mildew, and botrytis.”

Serving the local market 
Despite the global logistics challenges and energy crisis, AzRose hasn’t been stopped by any of that, also because they mainly serve the local market. “We have received requests for export,” Agil points out. “But they ask for very large volumes that we can’t handle, at the moment. With regards to logistics and transport, since we serve the local market, we didn’t have any disruption or tough situations to face. It indeed used to be cheaper a while ago, but we dealt with the fact that everything changed after the first lockdown.”

What hasn’t changed, however, is the AzRose commitment to deliver the freshest, highest quality rose. “When our roses get to the market, they have a shelf life of 2-3 weeks,” Agil says. “We have some post-harvest solutions and tricks up our sleeves for that. For instance, we leave them one night in the cold storage, and then we have our secret sauce to keep them fresh for the longest time possible.”

Such secret sauce is also grounded on the fact that AzRose constantly invests to improve its processes and offers. “We always invest in expanding our rose selection,” he says. “Initially, it all started with 50 hectares for making rose oil, then we made this greenhouse for cut roses. This year, we have started growing roses outdoors. We are thinking about introducing a new rose variety. This requires a lot of thinking and tinkering, however. That’s why we oftentimes go to the Netherlands to discuss new varieties and projects with the experts there. There, we usually meet also our friend and consultant Anton Koning. He has 30 years of experience in growing roses in every corner of the world, and we are delighted to work with him. ”

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