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Nov 2, 2021
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Potatoes tripped the Kremlin again

Potatoes tripped the Kremlin again

Photo: Dmitry Feoktistov / TASS

This year, potatoes surprised us with unprecedentedly high prices and a rather low quality of the crop. Bad weather and poor quality of seed material affected. Well, in bad weather you will not find a council. But what are the problems with the planting material?

Indeed, at the October meeting on scientific and technical support for the development of the agro-industrial complex, the head of state was told that they are successfully freeing domestic agricultural producers from import dependence, including in the selection of seed potatoes.

“… For four years, our country has been implementing the Federal Scientific and Technical Program for the Development of Agriculture for 2017–2025… The following main production results have been achieved for potatoes: 19 new varieties of potatoes have been created, of which ten are already in demand by agribusiness; more than 5.1 thousand tons of elite seed potatoes of domestic selection were produced, ”the Deputy Prime Minister reported to the President Victoria Abramchenko

This somehow does not very much correlate with what was previously told by “SP” head of laboratory breeding Krasnoyarsk agrarian university Andrey Churakov: “Our main large-scale production is focused on foreign potato seed material. The main suppliers are Germany and Holland. And we do not have such a scale of production – there are not enough breeding firms. In Russia, this market is simply not developed, and mainly state research institutes or universities operate in this area. Like ours, for example. But to meet all the needs, this is not enough.

And in Europe, it is a network of companies that has been developing seed production and potato in particular for more than a hundred years. They have built the production of microplants, mini-tubers. We just started this in our laboratory.

In Russia, there is now a federal program for the development of seed production, where a private producer is put at the forefront. But for now, the leaders are the varieties of foreign selection. ”

And in practice, it is obvious that we are still far from elite varieties, especially domestic ones.

“I am looking for potato seed material in different places – near St. Petersburg, in Pskov, Bryansk, Tula, Moscow region, Chuvashia, Udmurtia, Nizhny Novgorod – where there are seed farms. In different seasons, everyone has different seed qualities. Somewhere it was drought, somewhere it was flooded with rains. It happens that not only is the quality low – it is “lousy”, then small, and then it also begins to rot. Or that sort is not, I need. The main thing is that there is no such place so that I know for sure that I will come there and I can buy the seed I need. You have to “sift”, look for “, – said” SP ” chapter peasantfarmer farms (Krasnodar the end) Vitaly Plenkov

– Potato growers, of course, are not in vain reproached for the fact that foreign selection prevails in our country, there is such a subject, – believes executive director Potato union Of Russia Alexey Krasilnikov:

– Today, despite the presence in the State Register of about 450 varieties approved for production, potatoes from 20 varieties are mainly grown in the fields – the most popular ones, which account for 80% of the planting material. And among these 20 varieties, only one well, with some reservations – two varieties of domestic selection.

SP: – A here these 450 varieties from State Register there more imported or domestic?

– Approximately, equally. But another question – we don’t need so many varieties. And we must understand that imported foreign selection has long been localized, it is planted on our territory.

“SP”: – That there is, produced already here, v Of Russiaseminal material potatoes imported varieties?

– Quite right. This is how it works out here. Without taking into account personal subsidiary plots, our vegetable gardens, the so-called commodity sector requires about 850-900 thousand tons of planting material annually. And in recent years, on average, we import foreign varieties of high reproduction on average – about 10 thousand tons annually. Last year, 14 thousand tons were delivered. Then these seeds are reproduced, there is such a professional term – they are dispersed. And there are varieties that are mainly sharpened for processing – for chips, fries.

Photo: unprocessed potatoes at one of the Russian factories
Photo: unprocessed potatoes at one of the Russian factories (Photo: Eric Romanenko / TASS)

In this sector, completely – one hundred percent dependence – we do not have our own varieties of such, sharpened for this topic. Many more problems, We hope that this FNTP will help to solve them – a program for which good budget funds have been allocated, about 11 billion rubles. And recently Putin said that this program will still be extended until 2030. We hope that domestic breeding, science, seed growers will be able, with this state support, to compete with imports, to develop new varieties of potatoes that will at least not be inferior to foreign analogues.

Photo: sorting fried chips.
Photo: sorting fried chips. (Photo: Eric Romanenko / TASS)

“SP”:How much real version, what v the current year potatoes sharp has risen in price fromfor increased demand on her producers chips?

– This is not only because of chips … This season, we have several additional projects for potato processing that have gone into production: this is the production of chips, and additional lines for processing fries, factories for processing mashed potatoes have appeared. And the market has undergone some changes.

In the photo: sorting of chips.
In the photo: sorting of chips. (Photo: Eric Romanenko / TASS)

It has its own peculiarities, if any potato can be used for mashed potatoes, then for the production of chips and fries its own special standards are required. Nevertheless, the sector of consumption of raw potato is growing. And he pulls back that segment, which agricultural producers could produce – a canteen, for delivery to trade networks, to shops.

“SP”:That there is, elevated demand converters potatoes will continue pull up prices on him up?

– This tendency will grow, it is a global trend. We raised the question that we process about 10% -15% of potatoes, and European trends are at least 50% of potato processing. And, for example, in Belgium – about 85% of potatoes are used for processing. And this allows you to relieve some tension during periods of overproduction. And this is correct, because this is a value-added product oriented both to the domestic and foreign markets.

“SP”: – The present rise in price potatoes bind yet and with poor harvest, with substandard seminal the fund and also with those what the seeds his imported

– For the seed fund, this is a separate topic. It refers directly to both the harvest and crop failure. Because a 20% -25% guarantee of a good harvest is a high-quality sowing and planting material. But this season, I think, still the main role was played by weather conditions. And this year could be reflected in the harvest of 2022 and even 2023. Now there is a demand for planting material of both domestic varieties and foreign supplies. In addition, as I have already noted, the increased needs of potato processing plants have an effect.

But I want to emphasize that such increased prices as this fall – we have not seen this for a long time. Probably since 2010, when in August and September prices for potatoes and individual vegetables in open ground did not fall during the seasonal period, but only grew.

“SP”:Ministry of Agriculture, using scientific development, at help econometrics trying to understand causes “Uncharacteristic growth prices “ on potato, trying to create model, to unravel the present phenomenon and define “measures response “.

– This model … I don’t even understand how this is possible. I will try to explain on my fingers that no mathematician or programmer can find an algorithm to predict how this market will react to one degree or another.

Here I will repeat that the price situation of the current season to some extent repeats the price jumps in 2010, when there was a drought. After that, many agricultural producers saw that potatoes and other vegetables became “golden” and rushed here, spread to this segment. We have almost doubled the sown area for potatoes. And after that, for 3-4 years after the 2010-2014 season, we had an overproduction and oversaturation of potatoes on the domestic market. Prices collapsed, and all this echoed to us for 4-5 years. There was no price, no profitability etc.

Over the past 3-4 years, many agricultural producers have “ate” on cheap potatoes and have gone to other segments of crop production, including export-oriented ones, where agricultural producers receive tangible support – oilseeds, grains. Etc.

“SP”:But then, what problem here matures, can It was anticipate?

– And what is the use of this? In the 2020-2021 season, we assumed … Well, last year we also had a bad harvest, we meant that small potatoes were born etc. And we assumed that a number of agricultural producers would also reorient themselves and come to our segment. But this did not happen. The planting area for potatoes has not increased. And the weather conditions were unfavorable. And now the potatoes “shot” in price.

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