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Sheep breeding always determined the economy and life of Transbaikalia

The guest of our column today is Vladimir LOSKUTNIKOV, the Acting Minister of Agriculture of Transbaikal Territory.


- Good afternoon, Mr. LOSKUTNIKOV!


- Good afternoon!


- We decided to make a series of reports about Russian regions. Transbaikal region opens a regional column on the Omsky Biocluster web resource.


- So, are we first?


- You're right. And which sector is the first in the agro-industry of Transbaikal Territory? Crop or livestock farming? What place do they take in the region economy?


- Animal husbandry is the leading sector of the agro-industry of Transbaikal Territory due to natural and climatic conditions. The share of livestock products in agricultural production in the region is 75%. Transbaikal Territory steadily holds the leading positions among the subjects of the Siberian Federal District and the Russian Federation in terms of the number of cattle, sheep and goats, horses (at least 3 places) and wool production (2nd place).


- That is, is the animal husbandry leader?


- Each territory has advantages and objective difficulties. Here we have an objectively arid climate that makes the crop sector more risky than the same livestock. But Transbaikalia has resources for effective crop production, and the agrarians of the region have managed to achieve positive dynamics in this sector in recent years. The Ministry of Agriculture of Transbaikal Territory focuses on the implementation of major investment projects. So, Komsomolets Breeding Plant JSC implements an investment project of regional importance (the introduction of unused agricultural land in circulation). In 2015-2017, the company put into circulation 34.7 thousand hectares of agricultural land, which housed rape and grain crops. The resulting rape seeds are mainly sold for export. In 2018 it is planned to put into circulation 31.0 thousand hectares. In 2018, we expect an increase in the production of grain to 120 thousand tons, production of rape oilseeds - up to 30.0 thousand tons, which is twice the level of 2017. Compared with the current year, the gross harvest of potatoes in agricultural companies will increase to 7,400 tons.


- What are the main crops of Transbaikalia?


- In 2018, spring sowing in agricultural companies of Transbaikalia will amount to 180,400 hectares. Cereals (wheat, barley, oats) in the structure of sown areas will occupy 70% and will be sown on an area of 127.2 thousand hectares. The rapeseed crop area in 2018 will be 17.3 thousand hectares or 10% of the total sown area. The spring rape area in the current year is increasing by more than 4.0 thousand hectares to the level of 2017. Forage crops (annual and perennial grasses) will be placed on 32,1 thousand hectares. The fodder crops area will also increase by 8 thousand hectares, or 18%, as compared to the previous year.


- And what is the reason for the change in the sown areas structure?


- If we talk about fodder crops, then the reason is the shortage of fodder obtained from natural fodder land. Therefore, agricultural companies pay more attention to fodder production in the fields. But the increase in the share of spring rape crops in the sown areas structure is due to demand for products (oilseeds) in China. In 2018, more than 7.0 thousand hectares of spring rape seeded in the CLEARFIELD system. This system will make it possible to obtain a high crop of rapeseed even in the event of a strong weediness of crops with a single post-emergence treatment with a herbicide with flexible application times.


- Transbaikalia is part of Siberia and summer is short. How do you fight with it?


- Do not fight with the summer, you have to love it, use every nice day. Here it is required to use fast-ripening varieties and hybrids. This year we carry out experiments in two zones, steppe and dry steppe, with different amounts of precipitation. The essence of the experiments is the cultivation of fast-ripening varieties and hybrids of soy, sunflower and corn to produce seeds of these crops. Previously, these crops in Transbaikal Territory were cultivated only for green fodder due to a very short frost-free period. Modern varieties and hybrids with a vegetation period of 80-85 days can be cultivated in our region to seeds obtain. For the first time, Transbaikalia cultivates early-maturing maize hybrids to produce seeds of waxy ripeness for further crushing and canning, with the aim of using it for fodder purposes in the milk production.


- Let's go back to the livestock sector, which, as I understand it, is the driver of the agro-industry. What is the reason for success here?


- Sheep breeding plays an important role in the region, this sector traditionally determined the economic well-being and life of the local population. Extensive pastures of Transbaikalia, characterized by rich grass, small plowed fields and a small snow cover contribute to the confident development of sheep breeding. Year-round feeding of sheep at the forage is one of the oldest methods of their breeding, which has been preserved in Transbaikalia to the present time due to its low cost and efficiency: the share of pasturable fodder (in favorable weather conditions) in the annual diet of farm animals reaches 70-95%. Fodderlands (hayfields and pastures) are located mainly in the forest-steppe and steppe zones and occupy 71% of the area of agricultural land in Transbaikalia. Tribal and commodity farms of the region have sheep of Transbaikalian Fine-Wool, Aginian and Edilbaev breeds; horses of Transbaikalian and Budennian breeds.


- How does the region solve the problems of increasing the agribusiness efficiency?


- I repeat: the agriculture of Transbaikal Territory functions in difficult conditions, the production of agricultural products, raw materials and food without state support is unprofitable. State support is the main way for increasing efficiency. First, we use the right to determine the main priorities for different ways of subsidizing (the so-called ‘unified’ subsidy). Secondly, there are legal acts that establish rules for granting state support to agricultural producers. We have established norms on the use of incremental coefficients depending on the productivity, quality and completeness of the agrotechnological activities carried out, as well as on a gradual increase in the minimum values of the indicators. Third, we formulate proposals for amending the existing rules for the allocation and provision of federal budget funds.


- But changing any federal regulations and rules is almost impossible!


- I do not agree with you. We must correctly form proposals, argue with financial and economic calculations. You can not be passive and expect a miracle. As a result of Transbaikal Territory Days in the Federation Council, the issue of applying a coefficient of 1.2 for Transbaikal Territory when distributing subsidies from the federal budget was proposed for discussion. These subsidies are used to increase productivity in dairy cattle. A similar process is developing with respect to subsidies to promote the achievement of the targets of the regional agro-industrial development programs. Our initiative was supported in the Federation Council by the Committee on Agrarian and Food Policy and Nature Use, as well as by the Federation Council as a whole. They recommended in their final documents that the Government of the Russian Federation consider the inclusion of Transbaikal Territory in the lists of subjects of the Russian Federation in respect of which the coefficients are applied. We use other possibilities. For example, our Ministry has been cooperating with KZ Rostselmash LLC for a number of years, which provides additional discounts on the purchased energy-saturated equipment. We tell our agrarian manufacturers about the experience of other regions with similar natural and climatic conditions and establish the necessary contacts. As an example, the creation of experimental crops of maize for grain with the aim of its puffing and canning of Olekan LLC, testing of rape seeds of German breeding in Komsomolets JSC. Also, we tell potential grantees success stories, we hold meetings on farms that already have a positive experience in working with grants.


- Events Management, as in the old Soviet times?


- I would call it methodical accompaniment. This does not require significant financial costs, but there is certainly a benefit. Sometimes, the farm invested, built buildings, etc., but it has no competence and experience to properly the documents. We teach how to properly draw up documents, hold seminars. In general, I'll tell you - state support, yes, it's important. But if you are ineffectively farming, if you do not want to change anything, then no state support will help. It is important to feel like a master on your land, to take a businesslike approach to production.


- Are there agricultural or industrial clusters in Transbaikal Territory?


- There is no formed unified technological system from scientific research and studies to receipt of processed products. But some elements of a certain specialization of production, naturally, are present: the sheep breeding farms of the central part nearby have a primary processing of wool; grain production is located next to the grain storage infrastructure; areas of the southeast and the center, specializing in meat cattle breeding, develop cooperation of slaughter stations and meat-packing plants.


- With which Russian regions Transbaikalia has the greatest exchange in commodity-raw-material chains?


- The number of companies operating in the region is more than 600. These are food production companies, including meat processing, dairy, bakery, confectionery, and non-alcoholic beverage industries. The main task is to satisfy the needs of the regional market. But we also supply products to other regions. Deliveries of meat, sausages and semi-finished products are carried out in the regions of the Far Eastern District, Buryatia, Irkutsk region. The products of the beer and non-alcohol industry are in demand in the regions of the Siberian and Far Eastern Districts.


- And what does the region import?


- We import flour from Altay Territory, Novosibirsk region to ensure stable production of bread, bakery and confectionery products, taking into account unfavorable weather conditions of 2015-2017. In general, the largest trade in agricultural products is available with Novosibirsk, Amur, Irkutsk regions, the Republics of Sakha (Yakutia) and Buryatia, Khabarovsk and Primorsky Territories.


- The transfrontier neighbor of Transbaikalia is the Manchurian Free Trade Zone in China. How are foreign economic relations with China and other countries developing?


- Over a number of years, the enterprises of the agro-industry of Transbaikal Territory have cooperated with foreign companies from the People's Republic of China, Mongolia. Cross-border cooperation of the region with China and Mongolia in the field of agriculture has a stable character of long-term and mutually beneficial ties. Cooperation is being carried out with the East and Khanti aimags of Mongolia, the Autonomous Region of Inner Mongolia and the Heilongjiang Province of China.


- By the way, with the support of the Logistics & Foreign Economic Transactions Center of Omsky Biocluster, the Government of Omsk region and the Administration of the City of Omsk, the Omsk Trade House in the City of Manchuria was established and operates. We invite you to visit us! Share the experience!


- Thank you. Come, we'll see. Of course, we all need to learn to enter foreign markets. For example, Runo LLC (Aginsky district) supplies washed wool in the PRC for several years, they delivered 264.2 tons raw materials in 2017. Also, the supplies of washed sheep wool are carried out by Hen Da LLC (Borzya) established in 2013, the sales volume was 78.17 tons. Chitinskye Klyuchi JSC supplies water for children's food of the highest quality category, spring water, mineral water, beer to the People's Republic of China. The total delivery volume was 7.36 thousand decaliters for the amount of 1.833m RUR ($ 29.37 thousand). Deliveries of non-alcoholic drinks, mineral water, beer are carried out to Mongolia, the total delivery volume was 35.06 thousand dal worth 6.1m RUR ($ 97.76 thousand). The status of the investment project of the regional value was assigned to the project ‘Increase in the output of crop production of Breeding Plant Komsomolets JSC due to the involvement of agricultural lands in the turnover.’ The project aims at involving in the circulation of underutilized and unused agricultural land. The increase in acreage under technical crops - spring rape - has become one of the ways of development. The main channel for realization was export to China. In 2017 Breeding Plant Komsomolets JSC (Chernyshevsky district) exported 3.8 thousand tons. This project continues to be implemented.


- Participation of foreign capital in agriculture and food processing - what is it? Benefit or danger?


- Any state welcomes foreign investment and creates a comfortable legal environment. Now investment projects involving foreign capital are being implemented in Transbaikal region by agricultural enterprises engaged in crop and livestock production in several municipal districts. Joint ventures with the participation of Chinese capital carry out activities in the Borzinsky, Priargunsky, Ulуtovsky and Chitinsky districts. These are pig-breeding enterprises: Inter-Agro LLC, YunVan LLC, Novy Materik LLC, Xianjian LLC, as well as enterprises for the primary wool processing: Runo LLC, Hen Da LLC. Agricultural manufacturers, using foreign labor, grow cereals, vegetables, melons, potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes. Chitinsky, Aginsky, Uletsky, Priargunsky, Zabaikalsky municipal districts in 2017 together with foreign workers produced potatoes - 2116 tons, vegetables of open ground - 2738.84 tons, vegetables of closed ground - 2616.74 tons, wheat - 175 tons, oats - 20 tons, rapeseed - 2.8 tons, barley - 450 tons, pork - 533.77 tons. All products are in demand among consumers. As the practice of recent years shows, joint ventures are more competitive in view of greater labor productivity, trade opportunities in stable and large external sales markets, ensuring the sale of products at more attractive prices.


- After all, are you for foreign capital or against it?


- I support joint ventures with foreign capital if the company complies with Russian laws and stimulates our economy, provides a transfer of technology and skilled personnel. The Ministry of Agriculture of Transbaikal Territory believes that now the regional agro-industry is expecting more foreign investments than other branches. Now the region is ready to respond to any suggestions. So, Mongolia and China have repeatedly said that they are ready to deal with the supply of animal feed, and businessmen from China, in addition, repeatedly offered investments in meat and dairy production. Cooperation in this sector attracts foreign partners, including the fact that Transbaikalia is growing ecologically clean products. We do not have hazardous industries that could affect the environment. In addition, the use of traditional technologies for the cultivation of agricultural products determines the non-use of harmful substances. Agricultural animals also graze on natural pastures.


- All regions are promoting international student exchange programs.


- This is very correct. Students tomorrow will come to the farms and will determine the future of our agro industry. It is necessary to exchange experience, adopt all the best from colleagues. In recent years, it has become a good tradition to exchange students from the East, Hentian and Sukhebatorsky aimags of Mongolia and our Chita. The plan of joint work of higher educational institutions, which train personnel for agricultural branches, was developed. As of January 1, 2018, twelve representatives of the East aimak of Mongolia are trained in the educational institutions of our region, including the Mogoytuysky Agrarian-Industrial Technical School - 8 students (veterinary, economics and accounting) and the Nerchinsky Agrarian Technical School - 4 students (veterinary, technology of bread confectionery and pasta).


- Your wishes to Omsky Biocluster.


- Tell the readers more about the Russian regions. Help as an expert site to work out balanced support measures aimed at increasing production, the depth of processing of agricultural products. I wish new investment projects for all agrarians. I want to see the products of our manufacturers both in Omsk and Transbaikal counters.


- Mr. LOSKUTNIKOV, Omsky Biocluster thanks you for the interview. I think that our first regional track was a success. Good luck to the Transbaikal agro-industry!


- Thank you!


Omsky Biocluster Press Secretary Ravshana Balloyeva

  • Omsky Biocluster Press Service
  • 9 June 2018