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Arctic cultivation of polar agricultural industry

Arctic cultivation of polar agricultural industry

05.12.2012 — Analysis


The Far North of Russia is not limited to huge gas and oil reserves. The severe climate does not prevent the steady growth of production of environmentally friendly food products that find demand not only in Russia, but also in other countries. The authorities of the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District (YaNAD) do not count only on venison and valuable fish species. Vyacheslav Kucherenko, head of the Department for Development of the YaNAD Agro-Industrial Complex, talked about reducing the dependence of the region on the food products brought from the "mainland" in his interview to RusBusinessNews.

- The Yamal authorities set ambitious objectives on provision of the region with local food products. What are pre-conditions for their accomplishment?

 - This July the RF government adopted the state program for development of agriculture and regulation of markets for goods, raw materials and food products for 2013-2020; this program is one of the main guidelines in our further efforts aimed at development of the agricultural industry and rural areas. The main outcome of the previous five-year program is a triple increase in the government support of the district agricultural industry, which, consequently, brought this sector of economy to a fundamentally new level and resulted in higher incomes of the rural population. 

At present, the government provides financial support in fourteen areas. In 2012, 5,633 billion rubles have been allocated for support of agriculture and the fishing industry of the autonomous district, regional special-purpose programs, improvement of housing conditions in rural areas, development of trading stations and rural territories. For the first time, the program includes subsidies earmarked for new sectors of crop production, including potato- and vegetable farming, procurement of wild crops. There is a uniform policy for allocation of budgetary subsidies granted to the agro-industrial complex and a uniform industry-specific system of labor remuneration. This year, the priority sectors of production have received 1 billion 428 million rubles in the form of support, including federal budgetary funds amounting to 32.5 million rubles.

The district authorities do not forget about development of infrastructure and logistics. In 2011, the refrigerated harvesting and processing vessel was built by the order of Dmitry Kobylkin, the governor of Yamal; the vessel completed its first navigation in Gydanskaya Bay. Noum is the only rive-and-sea going vessel in the Ob-Irtysh Basin. The vessel is equipped with the latest navigation instruments. Her hold capacity is 300 tons. The refrigerated storage rooms have a freezing capacity up to 10 tons of fish, providing high-quality storage.

Noum has become the main fishing base for the Gydaagro Company (the Tazovsky District). This year, fishermen from remote fisheries have been able to procure larger quantities of "live silver" and to increase their incomes substantially.

Noum’s next navigation will be with cargo along the Northern Sea Route. St. Petersburg is preliminary mapped out as the destination point.

At the moment, on the Tyumen building slips, there is another vessel under construction – the vessel of a new level, designed for sailing both in internal and external territorial waters. The performance trials are scheduled for 2013.

- What is the situation with the local food supplies in the district at present?

- The YaNAD governor set the objective to supply the Yamal residents with local food products at maximum; the regional budget allocated additional funds.

The regional producers fill about 5% and 0.5% of the consumer demand for meat and milk, respectively. The numbers in fish supply are much higher – the consumer demand is satisfied for more than 50%. The potatoes grown in Yamal account for 3-4% in the consumption structure at present, while the future plans are aimed at the 100-percent self-sufficiency in terms of potato supply.

Hog farming in Yamal is still poorly developed; poultry farming does not even exist. In the meantime, the population’s demand for pork and poultry is estimated at more than 7.5 thousand tons and more than 10 thousand tons a year.

The plans for the next few years include construction and reconstruction of 11 livestock complexes, 5 poultry farms and 6 hog farms. After the completion of the construction of the new facilities and extension of the existing ones, the supply of dairy products will total 10 thousand tons a year – slightly less than one third of the consumer demand for dairy products, while the pork and poultry production will increase five times.

Six year-round operating greenhouse complexes of the total area equal to eight hectares will be built in Gubkinsky, Noyabrsk, Salekhard, Nadym, Novy Urengoy, and Muravlenko. The plans also include building seasonal greenhouses in Muzhi, Yar-Salye, Tarko-Salye, Tolka, Krasnoselkup, and Tazovskoye; the total area of green houses will be two hectares.

By 2017, due to these programs, Yamal will be able to grow about 2.5 thousand tons of vegetables and edible greens annually. For example, at present, the Noyabrsky Farmer Cooperative, a municipal unitary enterprise, supplies annually about 7.5 tons of tomatoes, cucumbers and lettuce to retail outlets; however, even these quantities are too small to meet the requirements of the Noyabrsk District, let alone other areas. 

The total area planted with potato is only 63 hectares. In 2011, the farmers harvested about 900 tons of root crops – less than 2% of the regional population’s demand. The vegetable farming must be further developed. First of all, crop areas must be properly prepared and agro-engineering measures must be taken, including training of specialists, setting up farming enterprises, and adoption of innovative technologies in potato production. The Shuryshkarsky and Krasnoselkupsky Districts have already started working on the solution of the problem.

At the initial stage, we are planning to attract the residents who have land and can start their own farms. New crop areas will be developed in parallel. In September 2012, the district Duma adopted the law that will govern subsidies for potato procurement and vegetable production. The estimated budget for these objectives is 4.45 million rubles.

We should not neglect the gifts of the severe Yamal nature. The annual output of northern berries can reach 100-140 tons. To process this valuable and sought-after product we must launch adequately equipped mini-complexes for harvesting and primary processing of wild berries; these complexes will be built in settlements of the Priuralsky, Shuryshkarsky, Tazovsky, Krasnoselkupsky and Purovsky Districts. At the beginning of 2013, they will start operating in Yamgort, Pelvozh and Nakhodka. We are going to build two mini-factories in Salekhard and Gubkinsky for the further high-level processing of berries.

- Yamal has the world’s largest number of domestic reindeer. The region has always placed a priority on the development of this sector of the agro-industrial complex. What results have you achieved by the present time?

- The total herd is estimated at 680 thousand reindeer – it is more than a half of the Russian reindeer livestock. Over the last five years, the venison output has increased by 47% - to 2,200 tons. Since 2008 the purchasing price for venison has nearly doubled, having increased to 160-180 rubles for one kilogram. We have also put into operation new slaughter and processing complexes. These measures helped to attract a large number of private households of reindeer herders and communities of indigenous people of the North, who previously had not participated in the production process. In 2011 their contribution amounted to more than 970 tons of venison.

Yamal Oleny (Yamal Reindeer), a high-tech slaughter-and-processing complex that is well-known both in Russia and other countries, started its operations in 2002. The complex meets all the present-day international requirements; it went through the certification by the European Union and produces more than 60 product brands. In 2012, the freeze-drying reindeer blood production line was put into operation; the plans also include processing of endocrine-enzyme raw stock.

Today, the similar complexes have been put into operation in Seyakha and Antipayuta villages. Due to the Seyakha complex alone, the venison output has increased almost by 400 tons. The new complexes are being built in Yuribei, a rotation settlement, Payuta and Nyda villages.

The substantial increase in the venison production has a positive effect, reducing the burden on the reindeer grazing grounds. It is very important that the number of deer should be balanced against the available grazing area and its quality.

Venison and valuable northern fish are in huge demand not only in Yamal, but also far beyond its boundaries. In 2008 we exported approximately 50 tons of venison; in 2011 the volume of supply increased to 537 tons. The Europeans understood the true value of the unique nutritional qualities of northern venison; therefore, we should focus on its high-level processing. This year, the Salekhard-based sausage-making shop with an output of two tons a shift will supply its first products – sausage and premium-class gourmet food products to consumers.

- At what stage is the project of the factory for artificial reproduction of muksun and other valuable species of fish?

- This investment project is being implemented under the compensation program aimed at preservation of the Ob and Taz ecosystems. It is scheduled for commissioning in 2013. The factory will be used as the center for research and testing of new technologies for reproduction of valuable species of fish, rehabilitation of water bodies of the Arctic region, training of scientific personnel for the fishing industry. The annual output is expected to reach 100 tons of muksun in eight years due to the additional production. The program on artificial reproduction will help to stabilize the white fish annual output in Yamal at 10-12 thousand tons by 2020.

The interview was taken by Lyudmila Solodkova




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