Imported seeds are more expensive, but so far farmers can not refuse them
The regions are actively preparing for the upcoming spring sowing campaign. Agricultural producers conclude contracts for the supply of mineral fertilizers, repair equipment and purchase seeds.
So far, the country's dependence on planting material reaches 50-90 percent for main crops. Sergei Kulikov talks about the problem in more detail in the Russian Rossiyskaya Gazeta.
Domestic seed base in recent years simply "collapsed." Financial assistance from the state comes, but it should be dozens, or even hundreds of times more, experts say. About 300 million rubles were allocated for breeding and seed centers in 2016-2017, explained Rossiyskaya Gazeta in the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation. And already 15 investment projects have been selected for reimbursement of direct costs incurred for their construction. In addition, this year continues to subsidize the production of seed potatoes, seeds of vegetables of open ground, corn, sugar beet, sunflower. For these purposes, allocated 11.3 billion rubles. The limits are distributed across regions, and seed growers can receive soft loans at 5 percent per annum for a period of one year.
The use of expensive imported seeds seriously reduces the profitability of production
Russia firmly hooked on imported needle seed. According to the Federal Customs Service, more than 95 percent in sugar beet, nearly 70 percent in sunflower, 70 percent in potato, and almost 50 percent in corn.
Experts in one voice explain the situation "low start" after the devastation. That is, the fact that the collapsed industry does not quickly pick up, but the process began and develops.
“The example of sugar beet is the most indicative,” says academician of the Russian Academy of Sciences Salis Karakotov about seed import dependence. “Over the past 10 years, there is practically no trace left of our selection and cultivation of its seeds - there are only scientific organizations that have maternal components”.
At the same time, according to him, the Russian land needs a geneticist familiar to our soil conditions. “We notice that using foreign seed selection and planting it everywhere, we suffer huge losses, as the roots rot, unable to withstand the rich microbiological background of black earth soils,” he states. Roughly speaking, sowing Russian fields with imported beets, you can get a good harvest, most of which simply rot. In the dry residue there will be nothing, but the manufacturer will show a good result.
Similar problems in their time arose in domestic potato growers. “In Russia in the late 1990s and early 2000s, there was a sharp shortage of potato seeds that would meet the requirements of the market,” continues Tatiana Gubina, head of the Potato Union administration. “The main breeding centers in Russia have always been specialized institutions that simply did not have time to adjust to the new conditions, often stuck at the stage of various reorganizations.”
Emerging major sellers - the same retail chains - need a “calibrated” product. That is, to meet a variety of conditions: in size and shape, resistance to shock, storage time, and so on. “And so that it is universal and suitable for both cooking and frying, or even just for chips,” notes Elena Tyurina, head of the Institute of Agrarian Marketing.
The answer to the question of why potato growers do not sell the most profitable seeds in terms of planting to the common population is simple - not the right volumes. The fact is that our academies and institutes are engaged in scientific work, so there’s no need for them, and there is simply no time to do this.
In the resulting vacuum poured foreign manufacturers, who actively began to occupy vacant seats. Now the situation is gradually changing, but in order to regain lost positions, it is necessary at least several years. So for now we have to buy “conditional” seeds in Holland, Germany, Finland and even Serbia. Moreover, prices are sometimes significantly "bite", for example, for corn.
“The use of expensive imported seeds significantly reduces the profitability of production,” said Mikhail Samus, executive director of the National Association of Maize and Sunflower Seed Producers (NAPSKP). - In the whole country, the farmers paid about 18 billion rubles for imported corn seeds. But the same amount of domestic seeds would cost about 4.5 billion rubles, so the overpayment is more than 13 billion rubles. ”
In the agricultural sector, the dependence on foreign planting materials is becoming more acute
Almost all Russian agricultural products are grown from imported seeds. Such is the kind of import substitution in the agricultural sector. The same beet that grew in the field, kind of like ours, but the seeds of this beet brought from abroad. What will happen if one day they are not brought?
The Parliamentary Gazette decided to find out why the country continues to depend on imports for seed production, what the scale of this dependence is and how the state is going to solve the problem of a shortage of domestic seeds.
Hope for gardeners, gardeners?
“Well, what sort of variety you take is foreign names everywhere, because all the seeds are imported,” the Federation Council Chairman was indignant Valentina Matvienko during the opening of a new greenhouse complex in the Leningrad region. She praised the employees of the greenhouse for the development of new technologies, but referring to the entire agrarian community and legislators, she urged them to work hard to restore the seed sector, so that agricultural products were produced entirely from domestic components.
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The situation in seed production is not very healthy in the field of horticulture and vegetable growing, the chairman of the State Duma Committee on Agrarian Issues admitted Vladimir Kashin in conversation with the "Parliamentary newspaper." According to him, the producers of sugar and fodder beet are most dependent on imported seeds. Domestic competitive seeds of this culture have yet to be created, the deputy noted.
The situation with corn is not much better: the market is still occupied by foreign producers who have mastered this sphere several decades ago. At the same time, Russian seed growers can become serious competitors for them, but for this to happen, the state must support them.
Domestic seeds are very popular among the population, Vladimir Kashin emphasized. This is especially true of growing "garden" vegetables. “About 80 percent of vegetables (tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, etc.) are produced by the population, and this part closes domestic seed production,” said the legislator. One of the few vegetable crops that are grown from imported material is potatoes. Here, a pretty decent sector is occupied by Dutch varieties, and the demand for them comes not only from ordinary farmers, but also from large agrofirms.
Our varieties are beautiful, competitive and give a good harvest, the problems in this area the least.
In the best way things in the segment of grain crops. “Our varieties are beautiful, competitive and give a good harvest, the problems in this area are the least. But over the past 20 years, the originators and manufacturers of the primary managers have not received a single penny from the state. Many stations decayed and got into debt, they need to be revived and developed, ”Vladimir Kashin complained.
The revival of seed: when to wait for "seedlings"
One of the main problems that hinders the development of seed production in Russia is outdated legislation. The law "On seed production" has not changed since its inception in the mid-90s. And although there were some attempts to actualize it, none of them gained legal force. According to a member of the Public Council under the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation Vladislav Korochkin, the norms of this document are actually kept in isolation of Russian agrarians.
Organic products will be a third more expensive than normal.
“It is necessary to change many regulations that hinder the free circulation and export of seeds, complicate the import and exchange of genetic material for those who want to engage in the selection of both official scientific institutions and interested breeders,” the expert believes.
Taking into account the actualization of the issue of seed production development, plans to finalize the law on seed production have already appeared in the State Duma. Vladimir Kashin confirmed this information to the “Parliamentary Newspaper”, noting that it is necessary to renew this sector of agriculture “along the whole vertical line”, including the creation of a scientific base and the development of a production system for improved planting material.
The issue of improving the technological base is most acute for our state, a member of the Duma Committee on Agrarian Issues added Alexander Polyakov. “In our country, outdated technologies of 20-30 years old are used, and many Russian scientists have left to work in foreign breeding centers. The situation must be deployed in the opposite direction, ”the deputy is sure.
Since last year, the government has been working on the revival of seed production and selection. By order of the president Vladimir Putin The Ministry of Agriculture has developed the Federal Scientific and Technical Program for the Development of Agriculture for 2017-2025. It provides for separate subprograms devoted to the development of potato breeding and seed production, as well as beets, vegetable crops, sunflower and corn. Judging by the “roadmap” of this project, both of them should already be in the process of implementation.
The fact that the state has put a priority on the issue of seed production development was also confirmed by the deputy chairman of the Federation Council Committee on Agrarian and Food Policy and Environmental Management Irina Hecht. “Today the creation of seed-growing stations and breeding centers is being subsidized. And in principle, they have already begun to be created, for example, in St. Petersburg and the Chelyabinsk region, ”the senator told the Parliamentary newspaper.
There is understanding from local businesses, she added. So, large agricultural holdings are increasingly creating their own breeding and seed-growing centers. “That is, this is a mutual movement from business and from the state. I think that in the next five to seven years we will solve this problem, ”the parliamentarian emphasized.
Abroad will help us
No matter how strange it may sound, but the development of Russian seed production without foreign countries is impossible. Vladislav Korochkin, a member of the Public Council under the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation, told about this in a comment to the Parliamentary Newspaper. The whole thing in the quality of seeds, which can provide only a favorable climate.
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According to him, seeds grown in Russia may have more non-condition because of bad weather conditions: there is not enough sun, somewhere is too cold or there is not enough water for watering, somewhere it rains. cleaning and so on. However, these problems are familiar to foreign manufacturers, especially from Northern Europe.
So the seed-growers are looking for the most favorable areas around the globe. Mostly promising fields are located in the southern hemisphere. Associated infrastructure, farms, subcontracting organizations and everything else is developing there, which also affects more efficient and cheap seed production, Vladislav Korochkin said.
"The Dutch, for example, practically do not produce any seeds in their own home - they grow them in the USA, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand and other countries," the interlocutor of the Parliamentary Newspaper stated. According to him, Russian vegetable companies do the same for the same reasons: they grow 80 percent of their own varieties and hybrids abroad.
In addition, these manufacturers negate the seasonality factor. “When we have winter - summer is in the southern hemisphere, the seeds ripen. By the time we start sowing, they are cleaned, that is, they come to us fresh, ”explained a member of the Public Council under the Ministry of Agriculture.
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How to get off the "needle" seed imports
Russia needs new breeding achievements not to depend on imported seeds, says Alexander Polyakov, a member of the State Duma Committee on Agrarian Issues. Using the example of his native Tambov region, he showed the Parliamentary newspaper how the regions are looking for ways of independent development.
Tambov region is an agricultural region, but the region also faces serious problems in the field of seed production. For example, the lack of quality seed inhibits the growth of potato yields. To increase the volume of its production and eliminate imports, an investment project has begun on the construction of a seed breeding center. It will use innovative methods of biotechnology, which will allow to grow virus-free seeds.
In general, in the Tambov region, 13 seed farms are registered, and all of them are aimed at the production of seeds of high reproductions of promising varieties. A serious work is carried out by the branch of the Russian Agricultural Center in the Tambov Region, especially in terms of monitoring the quality of seed, phytosanitary monitoring of crops and the spread of dangerous pests, as well as advice on combating them.
Deal with Western "agrotitans": a threat or a blessing?
While the seed sector is preparing to “rise from the ashes of the 90s,” foreign companies can take over the market. According to Senator Irina Hecht, the concern is primarily caused by the merger of the German company Bayer and the American herbicide and GMO seed producer Monsanto.
Today, the creation of seed stations and breeding centers is being subsidized. And in principle, they have already begun to be created, for example, in St. Petersburg and the Chelyabinsk region.
FAS approved the deal on the territory of Russia, obliging the corporation to share “secrets of success” with Russian farmers, so that they can develop and compete. This is a five-year collaboration in the field of digital biotechnology. Among other things, Bayer - Monsanto will transfer seed-growing technologies: molecular means of selection of corn, rapeseed, soybean, wheat, as well as individual germplasm (collection of genetic material) of tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbage, and the crops listed above.
In the FAS, this deal with the agro giant is rated positively, hoping that this will help the development of the domestic agricultural sector. But senators do not see anything optimistic in this event. “After the merger, Bayer - Monsanto will actually become monopolists in the global seed market. Here we see a threat to both national security and food, ”commented Irina Hecht.
Experts on agrarian issues in the media also express skepticism: in their opinion, the technologies provided by the monopolist will in no way help Russian producers, since they will not be able to use them because of the outdated material base and lack of experience.
In Russia, the shortage of domestic seeds is growing again. Rostov, Stavropol, Bashkir farmers once again sound the alarm - without the support of the state can not cope with dependence on imported seeds. If there are no problems with grain crops, then there is a failure in other crops. Import dependence ranges from 30 to 90%
In 2017, over 80 million hectares of land will be sown with different crops in Russia. To do this, farmers will need more than 10 million tons of seed. And most of the farmers will have to buy from abroad.
As reported by RBC in the Business Vector program, in monetary terms the volume of the Russian seed market is approximately 50 billion rubles. “Including 10 billion rubles are private consumers (gardeners and gardeners), 40 billion rubles are agricultural enterprises. Of this total, about 25 billion rubles falls on imported seed material. The most “non-imported” crops are sugar beets, corn, and potatoes. The reason for this dependence on imports is in the long production cycle of planting material, ”noted in the program.
And this is despite the fact that in March 2016, Russian Premier Dmitry Medvedev pointed out the need to eliminate dependence on imports of both seed and breeding materials for agriculture.
“As for the seeds, in any case, for individual varieties, and for the breeding materials, we have problems, as well as for the addition of part of the feed. We absolutely can get rid of this dependence. This is not very difficult, although it requires effort and money, ”Medvedev said. The prime minister noted that absolute independence should be achieved from the leading suppliers of breeding and seed materials.
However, a year has passed, and Russian farmers have not seen an improvement in the situation.
“Everyone would like to rely not only on state support, on the money that is given under various programs. Но и рассчитывать, как это принято во всем мире, на банковский сектор, - отмечал президент Торгово-промышленной палаты РФ Сергей Катырин. - А это значит, должна быть процентная ставка, которую способен переварить сельхозпроизводитель. Когда он (банк) дает под 20% …Это какую надо иметь рентабельность культуры, чтобы рассчитаться по 20%».
But Russian farmers say that state support is sorely lacking. So, Rostov farmers have already become hostages of transnational companies. Seeds of corn, sugar beet, sunflower are purchased only from abroad. “The market was flooded with foreign seed material. The materials of those breeding institutions that exist do not compete with foreign hybrids. Our selection, unfortunately, does not reach, ”said Vladimir Chernenko, dean of the agronomic faculty of the Don State Agrarian University, told RostovGazeta.ru.
And there are several problems here at once. This is the lack of qualified personnel, and insufficient equipment of the material and technical base, as well as the lack of land.
Experts note that first of all the state should support science. “In order not to force out Russian producers, the state should support science. For example, consumers give subsidies if they buy domestic seeds, ”Vladimir Zemlyanov, director of Don Seed, suggested in an interview with RostovGazeta.ru. In addition, the adviser to the president of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Rostov region, Yuri Kornush, proposed options for public-private partnership. “For example, the institute grows seeds, private companies introduce them into production, run in and get crops,” explained the expert.
Bashkir farmers complain about the lack of state support. They declare that in general they have not seen any subsidies. With udsidia give only those farms that do not have debts. And there are practically no such people left in Bashkiria. This is despite the fact that the size of the acreage in the agrarian region is three million hectares.
“We don’t receive any state subsidies at all, although we in the republic are essentially the only ones who are seriously engaged in seed production,” Bogdan Gabitov, head of the seed production department of the Bashkir Institute of Agriculture, told the mkset.ru publication. - As a result, we have to carry out all the developments exclusively with our own funds. Excluding salaries, utility bills and other things, we have about 35-40 million left for these purposes. ”
And the main problem with one of the major seed developers in Bashkiria is outdated technology. At the institute there are cars of the sample of the 70s of the last century. There is no money to buy the latest equipment.
“If there was government support of at least 50-60 million rubles a year, we would update the equipment, and under such conditions we could increase seed production twice,” said Gabitov.
Seed production gradually ceases to be profitable for farmers. Moreover, when there is no state support, and a bank loan does not solve the problem at all. In addition, the quality of imported seeds is one level higher than domestic ones.
Thus, in the Nizhny Novgorod Ministry of Agriculture, it was explained that, although the bulk of the purchased seeds in the region are purchased from a domestic producer, the seeds of sugar beet, vegetables, and corn of grain direction are imported from abroad. And this is due to the high yield and quality of the products of foreign varieties and hybrids compared to domestic ones.
However, not everything is so bad. As told to the Newsnn.ru publication in the Nizhny Novgorod Ministry of Agriculture, a whole network of elite seed-producing enterprises is already successfully operating in the region, which are united in the research and production system Elita. And it works with the scientific support of the Nizhny Novgorod Agricultural Academy. Thus, in the region 32 elite seed-seed organizations are engaged in the production of elite and reproduction seeds. And in 2017, they plan to produce about 33 thousand tons of elite seeds of grain and leguminous crops, as well as 3.3 thousand tons of potato seeds, 52 tons of perennial grasses, 12 tons of flax.
It is known that in Russia the development of seed production received state support after the start of the war of sanctions. According to the director of the plant growing department of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation, Peter Chekmarev, today 20% of the cost of building seed plants is subsidized. “Now, if, relatively speaking, a seed plant costs 1 billion rubles, then 200 million rubles it will receive back subsidies from the federal budget,” the official explained. - Therefore, there is interest. About 10 seed plants are built annually. And we hope that this program will help provide our country with good seed plants. ”
It is high time
Farmers and experts interviewed by TASS supported the proposed ban on the import of American and European seeds to Russia. "We need to intensify the work of breeding stations and accredited institutions. I think that all sanctions are beneficial, we should go to our own, as before," said Sergei Bensler, director of the large agro-industrial company Kolos from the Altai Territory.
Dagir Smakuev, who runs Hammer, one of the largest agricultural enterprises in Karachay-Cherkessia, said that "the share of imported seeds in the market is on average more than 60%, this dependence needs to be reduced."
The founder of the Southern Agrarian Agency, Alexander Gavrilenko, believes that the ban will increase competition between institutes engaged in seed production in Russia. “The state artificially provides demand for Russian seeds, limiting imports. This is intensifying interest in Russian breeding, and competition between institutions is intensifying,” he said.
Bensler is also confident that the ban on the import of imported seeds into Russia will hit the economy of Western countries more than the Russian. "As a result, their farmers [their government] will be forced to go to negotiations. We in this matter should think for ourselves - why would they terrorize us, if we can work on our [raw materials]," said the head of Kolos.
"I think that [President Donald USA] Trump should be given a Hero of Labor, for what he did for the development of agriculture in Russia," Igor Lobach, president of the National Association of Corn and Sunflower Seed Producers, who previously made proposals for similar measures.
According to Lobach, the association has already sent a letter to the government of the Russian Federation, the State Duma and the Ministry of Agriculture of the country. "We insist that it is necessary to prohibit the importation into the Russian Federation of seeds of corn and sunflower [from leading American producers]. We believe that it is necessary to introduce quotas on the import of seeds of corn, sunflower and soybean - about 20-25 thousand tons, not more, for corn and about the same for sunflower, as a result 75-80% of seeds will be our selection, "he added.
At the same time, both the legislators, the authorities, and the farmers themselves recognize that Russia still has a strong dependence on seed imports. "Our situation [on importing seeds] varies greatly depending on the crops. In the grain group - wheat, barley - we have practically become independent, and most farmers in the main grain-producing regions use local varieties. But we have a big problem with sugar beet, also a large share of imports of corn and sunflower, "- said Gavrilenko.
In the agricultural Stavropol region is fully provided with seeds of domestic varieties of grain crops, but there is great dependence on the import of seeds of peas, corn and sunflower. "For sugar beet, only foreign seeds are used, which have shown themselves well in our natural-climatic zone. As for peas, Russian producers have only 23% of the total, 77% are of the foreign selection. About the same situation with corn for grain, sunflower: the share of domestic seeds is from 14 to 22%, ”the agency in the regional Ministry of Agriculture said.
Adygeya also has a high proportion of imported seeds, while local farmers still do not want to give them up, says the head of the Republican Rosselkhoz Center, Anna Minakova. “Farmers of Adygea use sunflower seeds, corn of foreign selection, and don’t want to refuse them. As for spring crops, there is a significant advantage in favor of seeds purchased by farmers abroad: 70% are seeds of foreign selection, 30% are domestic. And But there is a completely different trend with regard to wintering crops: 85% are domestic seeds, the rest are foreign, ”Minakova told TASS.
In the Krasnodar Territory - another leading agrarian region of the Russian Federation, as experts note, local farmers do not depend on American seeds, but acquire their analogues in Europe. “Vegetables are more Europe, the Netherlands, sugar beets are Germany. Mostly our local grain crops are sunflower, corn, and soybeans,” said Viktor Sergeyev, chairman of the association of peasant (farmer) farms in Krasnodar Territory, TASS.
According to experts, the rejection of the import of seeds in some cases can lead to their appreciation. "The market places everything in places, and somewhere it will still be imported through third countries, but only more expensive. Naturally, this will postpone the imprint on prices," Gavrilenko noted.
Years are needed
Russian farmers and regional authorities are confident that the development of domestic seed production is essential, but this can take years. In this regard, the Minister of Agriculture of the Omsk region, which is one of the agricultural centers of Siberia, Maxim Chekusov believes that the sanctions against the seeds should be approached very carefully.
“There are risks, we must be weighed, because all this can affect productivity. In order for us to revive plant breeding trends, we need decades. We also need to finally finance federal agrarian universities and agricultural institutes that are in critical condition now,” said Chekusov TASS.
Gavrilenko believes that Russia can fully provide itself with seeds only in 10-15 years. "If such a task is set by the state, and the money will be invested purposefully in the dramatic development of breeding, then in the perspective of 10-15 years, I think we will be able to provide ourselves with seeds," said the expert, adding at the same time that Russian science is field of seed production "inferior to Western world research centers."
Director of the Altai agrofirm, Sergei Bensler, is more optimistic in his forecasts and believes that seed production in Russia can be developed in two or three years. "I think that seed production and hybrids, sunflower, which is a strategic crop in the Russian Federation, will not do without consequences, those crops that we began to sow for balancing the grain market (rapeseed, soybean). But another two or three years will go native ", - said Bensler.
He added that his company imports only 5% of imported seeds, so it will not suffer much from counter-sanctions. The Ministry of Agriculture of the Altai Territory also notes that serious problems are not expected from counter-sanctions in the region, since practically all the seeds used for planting in this region are Russian.
Sergeyev is confident that Russian breeders are able to produce seeds that are superior in quality to imported ones. "This direction [seed growing] has been abandoned for many years, but now the work has resumed, [in farms] domestic seeds are used. Although breeders still need to work on them. But there is one huge plus: imported tomatoes - like plastic you chew, and Kuban tomatoes It turns out the most delicious, from them straight tomato spirit stands, "- said the agency interlocutor.
There is already progress
Experts interviewed by TASS noted that in recent years many specialized plants have appeared in Russia and new ones are being built. Thus, in the Stavropol Territory in 2019, a plant will be built for the production of classical hybrids for 10 thousand tons of sunflower seeds and corn annually, told TASS in the press service of the regional Ministry of Agriculture.
Karachay-Cherkessia is not far behind in this issue, where a large seed center has been opened, which provides corn not only for farmers of the KCR, but also for other regions. As the head of Hammer said, in the near future the agrofirm plans to start producing soybean, sunflower, barley and wheat seeds. “We can produce the whole range of seeds on our equipment, but this is a long-term program,” said Smakuev.
Farmers add that for accelerated development of seed production, Russia may need state support. “Under the condition of state support, we ourselves would be more active, and would attract scientists for selection, and determine which varieties are needed,” said Vladimir Zhutenkov, manager of investment projects of a large agricultural holding Okhotno from Bryansk, told the agency.
As reported by TASS, the press service of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation, annually selected projects for the provision of state support for the creation and modernization of enterprises in the agro-industrial complex. Over the past three years, 15 projects have been selected in the direction of the "seed breeding center". As a result, the plant for the production of soybean seeds in the Amur region will completely cover the region’s needs for seeds of higher reproductions, provide them with other regions of the Far East and Transbaikalia, and in the Chelyabinsk region a seed breeding center will provide a third of the region’s needs for grain and leguminous crops.