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Potato news update from Russia

The Potato Union of Russia and the Russian magazine Potato System recently came to an agreement to collaborate in an initiative to inform the commercial potato industry about important industry and government events, promotion of the achievements of agricultural producers, and more.

The organizations agreed to strengthen partnerships, regularly exchange information and support each other’s initiatives for the benefit of potato farmers and other stakeholders in Russia. “We hope that the transition to a new level of cooperation will expand the capabilities of both parties and allow us to solve professional problems even more successfully and efficiently,” says the Chief Editor of Potato System, Olga Maxaeva – maksaevaov@agrotradesystem.ru.

Other potato related news reported in the English section of Potato System magazine the past week:

Problems and prospects of growing potatoes in the Stavropol Territory

On March 13, Andrey Kiselev, head of the Potato Seeds division of AgroAlliance NN, and Agrotrade Group Development Director Viktor Kovalev visited the farms of the village of Borgustanskaya (Piedmont region, Stavropol Territory).

The village of Borgustanskaya is famous not only for the traditions of the Terek Cossacks, but also for large individual farming operations that grow potatoes annually on areas of up to 2000 hectares each.

At the meeting with the heads of farms Nikolai Vladimirovich Kravtsun, Alexei Pavlovich Polezha, Anatoly Georgievich Chudentsov and Sergey Alekseevich Dzhuri the results of the past season and the beginning of the new growing season were discussed.

At the entrance to Borgustanskaya village

The producers spoke about the key problems of the industry in the region. One of the main problems is abnormally high temperatures in the summer period, which forces potato growers to use plots located on high ground for growing a crop. Fields are located on average at an altitude of 950-1000 meters above sea level, and in previous years this solution made it possible to obtain stable yields (average yield: 30-33 t / ha) without the use of irrigation. Now it’s more difficult to achieve similar results. It is also not always possible to introduce irrigation under these conditions, since groundwater lies at a depth of 800 meters and has a low flow rate.

Due to the dry summer and autumn periods, the use of equipment during harvesting is minimized, as potato is injured. Instead of combines, manual labor is used, which increases the cost of potatoes by 2.5-3 rubles / kg.

The issue of supporting small and medium-sized peasant farms is a pressing one: financing and lending to such farms is a difficult task. A farmer cannot buy modern equipment on credit or leasing, as he has nothing to pledge in return.

The positive – although once-off – experience of interaction between farms and the Stavropol agricultural park in 2013 was discussed, when an agreement was reached on growing potatoes on order with a 10% prepayment by the customer. Farms at the time received money in early March, which made it possible for them to purchase fertilizers, fuel and other input necessities in time for the next planting season.,

Now there are no such projects in the region and therefore all possibilities for the development of the industry (construction of storage facilities, the introduction of modern packaging facilities, etc) are sadly put off indefinitely.

In the current situation, most potato growers quickly sell products from the field after harvest, which negatively affects the price level in the region.

The situation could be changed by the investment from a large operator in the region, one that is capable to initiate the construction of storage facilities, and can also market finished products successfully. Ideally, farmers would prefer to produce their products under contract to fulfill a pre-determined order. The creation of a powerful production and marketing cooperative that would provide the Kavminvodsk region with a high-quality product would be the answer in a “perfect world”.

In conclusion, the parties agreed on regular meetings and informational support to the peasant farm of the hospitable Cossack village of Borgustanskaya.

Original report published on the English version of Potato System here.
Further information from Agrotrade Group Development Director, Viktor Kovalev: master-kovalev@ya.ru

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Lukie Pieterse, Editor and Publisher

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