– It is below one and a half percent. Our task is to preserve these precious agricultural hectares, – Vladimir Kovalenko, director of the Sakhalinmeliovodkhoz Administration, president of the Sakhalin Agricultural Consumer Cooperative (SPK), is accurate and convincing.
His story about how the region developed, perished, and now the most important agricultural industry, land reclamation, is reviving, captures, despite the specificity of the subject.
In the 80s of the last century, a reliable recovery structure was built in the Sakhalin region. The last engineering system was released in 1990 and then the industry gradually began to decline. Restoration work began 23 years later, while the average lifespan of recovery communications is 30 years. However, people still received crops on these lands, everything was done very well.
But now the critical moment has come. For example, the large island farms “Green Agro-Sakhalin” and the state farm “Yuzhno-Sakhalinsky” cannot reach their design capacity for one reason – they lack about seven thousand hectares of reclaimed land, says Vladimir Kovalenko. – A similar situation has developed on other farms. Generally speaking, about 15,000 hectares of land on Sakhalin must be reclaimed. At the current rate of work we can provide, it will take 24 years!
A little history
The revival of land reclamation in the Sakhalin region was heavily compromised in 2013, when the federal program “Development of land reclamation for agricultural purposes in Russia” was launched. In 2014 it was understood that a special structure was needed for its implementation. Then the Sakhalin Consumer Cooperative was created, uniting land reclaimers and agricultural producers left behind in the south of the island.
At that time, land reclamation as an industry in the Sakhalin region was completely destroyed. At the same time, all of the region’s agriculture is located exclusively on reclaimed land, and the drainage system, created decades ago, required maintenance and reconstruction. Farmland began to waterlog and this process had to be stopped. However, the legislative imbalance has become a serious problem.
Some 15,000 hectares of land on Sakhalin need to be reclaimed. At the current rate of work, it will take 24 years
– Today the land and the reclamation system are legally separated, – explains Vladimir Kovalenko. – According to the new legislation, a land plot can be divided, registered, and the fact that engineering structures are located on it does not bother anyone. Often the owners of the site fill up the main channels, and this is fraught with flooding and flooding.
a matter of technology
Despite the objective difficulties, the SEC got to work, having picked up a good pace for 2019. At that time, with the help of various land reclamation measures, 600 hectares of land per year were put into circulation. We planned to switch to large volumes, buy equipment, but the pandemic made us uneasy.
– Now there are about 47 thousand hectares of agricultural land on Sakhalin. In order not to lose them, it is necessary to drain at least a thousand hectares a year, says Vladimir Kovalenko. – This requires equipment that allows breeders to work all year round. We previously bought it in Japan, but now due to sanctions this is not possible. This means that it is necessary to look for resources in China or in Russia. The need is for at least 20 bulldozers, the same number of bulldozers and dump trucks, at least two trawls and two tankers.
Separate conversation – about fuel. For one piece of equipment per day, 200-300 liters of diesel fuel are needed. At the same time, the price is prohibitive, a liter costs at least 81 rubles.
– Another important point is staff training. It takes at least five years of practice to become a good excavator operator. Therefore, today only one in five excavators who get a job in a cooperative are delayed, explains Vladimir Kovalenko. – Same with bulldozers. A specialist who can perform high-quality work on the formation of a site profile is actually a designer. True, he has a scale, unlike an ordinary designer – sites of 20 hectares each!
In addition to equipment and personnel, working capital is needed. Under current economic conditions, the cooperative acts as an investor. That is, he designs, builds with his own money, and only after completion of the work repays his expenses. The client, that is, the agricultural producer, can pay only after receiving a subsidy, and it will cover only 80 percent of the breeders’ costs. The remaining 20 in the form of VAT refunds will be received by land reclamators only after eight to ten months. In such a situation, we are not even talking about profit.
Intensive work with the government of the Sakhalin Region and the regional Ministry of Agriculture helps to rectify the situation. The main thing is that the leaders of the region understand the importance of land reclamation. But the help of the SEC “Sakhalinsky” is needed, and above all, financial support.
– Land reclamation is a matter of special importance and requires the direct participation of the state, – Vladimir Kovalenko is convinced. – The reactivation of the industry is a task established by the President of Russia before the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation. The objective is to double the export potential of the country’s agriculture. Therefore, despite the latest technologies, we cannot do without land reclamation.