hit tracker
Thursday, May 23, 2024
HomeLatest NewsLet's go store potatoes: why even a rich harvest in Russia does...

Let’s go store potatoes: why even a rich harvest in Russia does not save us from increases in vegetable prices

Date: May 23, 2024 Time: 08:28:14

Tver farmer Vadim Roshka.

Photo: Elena ARAKELYAN

It is not enough to get a good harvest, it is important to preserve it until spring. However, in recent years there have been problems with vegetable storage facilities in Russia. Why doesn’t even a good harvest protect against rising vegetable prices? Our correspondent went out into the field in search of an answer to this question. Or rather, in the storage room.

Until recently, my knowledge of storing vegetables was based on the experience of the Soviet school. We, high school students near Moscow, were often sent there to sort carrots, cabbages and potatoes. The experience, to be honest, was so-so. The clothes smelled rotten for a long time even after washing. And I didn’t want to buy store-bought vegetables in winter after knowing how they were stored.

The times change. But problems with storing potatoes and vegetables from the “borscht set” are apparently an eternal problem. No, there is definitely less rot on the shelves: the consumer is now more demanding. But another problem appeared. Remember 2021, when carrots surpassed bananas in price on shelves and regular white cabbage doubled in price?

“The country lacks storage facilities, especially modern and well-equipped ones,” the experts explained. – Domestic vegetables are available mainly during the harvest season, and in winter and spring they are a refuge for imports and speculators. When other problems arise, such as rising transport costs or the fall of the ruble, a sharp increase in prices in the off-season is guaranteed.

“Modern storage is fantastic,” sighed one farmer I knew. – This is not at all what it was in Soviet times. But this requires investing millions, especially in equipment. I prefer to sell my farm vegetables cheap in the fall. And if it doesn’t work, I’ll reduce the harvest next year. Or I will dedicate myself to you completely.

“The people at the top” were also concerned about the issue. And in 2022 we will bring into operation a record number of new storage facilities for potatoes, vegetables and fruits. Where did so much come from? And now prices will improve?

THE TEAM WORKS HARD

– How many people work in my potato warehouse? You are welcome. The computer is working. And I use my phone to monitor what’s going on in my storage room.

Tver farmer Vadim Roshka was recommended to me as a person who overcame all difficulties and has already had a new potato warehouse for a year. As Vadim himself said, he also has plans for a second mixed storage facility for potatoes and cabbages.

Photo: Elena ARAKELYAN

Against the background of a huge silver hangar, Vadim looks somewhat lonely. Only the dog runs around, a foundling of the local vacationers.

All kinds of equipment for harvesting and planting potatoes are parked on the nearby lawn. And hooray, I see at least one more person alive, one of the farm machinery operators.

With my memories of Soviet school, it is strange for me to see such desolation on the eve of the harvest season. Potatoes must be harvested by a multitude of people: the entire collective farm, and even with the “sponsorship help” of schools, institutes and everything that is at hand. And it takes a lot of people to sort it properly before putting it away; Otherwise, nothing will be left but dirt…

And Vadim smiles and turns his cell phone in his powerful peasant hands.

– Cabbage still requires labor; it is difficult to extract it carefully with a combine. And the potatoes… We harvest them with a German combine: everything is intact, not broken and almost clean. Then, in the receiving and sorting hopper, we separate dirt lumps and small objects. Next is the stack stacker… What type of unit is this? And we immediately hung and packed the potatoes from the warehouse. You need 25kg; This machine will measure the required weight and pack it into a net.

– Is there a lot of rot?

– Yes, it is generally unrealistic for something to rot in such a storage place: you have to be completely ignorant and incorrectly configure the settings or mess up the technology.

It’s not life, it’s a fairy tale. If it weren’t for some details.

Photo: Elena ARAKELYAN

POTATO ARITHMETIC

Vadim Roshka has bulk storage, the most common and cheapest. The potatoes are placed in piles (this is the scientific name for a pile of tubers) four meters high. It is then blown (dried) through special blowers, cured (so as not to introduce spiders into storage) and cooled to the temperature required for storage.

The computer monitors temperature and humidity and selects the desired ventilation mode. (By the way, it is national. “In the warehouse sector, our companies managed to substitute some imports very quickly,” praises Vadim.) It only takes one person from the beginning, to set everything up. And then periodically check how the equipment works.

Thus the potatoes can remain until approximately May. So that it can be stored until the new harvest without significant quality losses, that is, in the middle zone until September, additional refrigeration equipment is required.

“I don’t see the point in this,” says Vadim. – In June-July, young potatoes already appear from the southern regions, including the Krasnodar Territory. And it sells much better than the previous one that has been on the market for a year. But without any type of storage, if you don’t have several hectares, but rather normal volumes that allow you to do business, there is no way in our area. Here we harvest potatoes in September and cabbages in October. I started to clean, but it started to rain, where should I put everything so it doesn’t rot right away? And even without rain, this is a path to bankruptcy. Comrades resellers, when you arrive, you immediately realize the situation. There is no storage, which means you can lower the price; They buy it below cost.

The costs of “bankruptcy rescue” remain the same. With volumes that allow stable sales from autumn to spring, this amounts to several, not even millions, but tens of millions of rubles. For our Roshka, for example, potato chip manufacturers also use potatoes for processing. The built storage capacity is 3.5 thousand tons. And this volume is no longer enough.

Vadim, as he himself claims, managed to build it for 9 thousand rubles per ton of storage. In the reality of 2023, this is already incredibly cheap: everything has become more expensive.

– The maximum cost threshold, including equipment and construction, for storage facilities designed in 2021 was 15 thousand rubles per ton of storage. In 2023, it will already be 23 thousand rubles,” Roman Nuriev, commercial director of the Interagro company, told KP. – This is for normal storage of potatoes. And if the potato warehouse is not only ventilated, but also with refrigerators (necessary for seed potatoes – Ed.) and with a line for minimal processing of products (for example, beloved washed potatoes, packed not in a net, but in a beautiful bag – Ed.), in 2021 it was up to 25 thousand rubles per ton of storage, and in 2023, 37 thousand rubles.

Now multiply these costs by at least a thousand tons of potatoes. There are already tens of millions.

Photo: Elena ARAKELYAN

WHERE TO GET MONEY FOR PROGRESS

“New storage facilities for vegetables and potatoes are built mainly thanks to government support programs,” says Roman Nuriev. – There are federal and regional programs, in some regions the support reaches 50 or even 80 percent of the cost of the object. Support can be expressed in the reimbursement of part of the capital costs (that is, you first build and purchase equipment, and then part of the costs are returned to you from the regional or federal budget if what is built meets certain requirements – Ed .), subsidizing loan rates and through other instruments.

“I haven’t seen any compensation yet.” They promise next year: they presented the documents. But where will I get so much money? It was built thanks to a 5% preferential agricultural loan, says Vadim Roshka. – Actually, this is already a great help. An ordinary commercial loan costs 15-16% (in last year’s reality, ed.), that is, the State already reimburses approximately 10% of the bank rate.

I remember numerous stories about how difficult it is for farmers to obtain such preferential loans.

– Five or seven years ago it was difficult, but now many things have become easier and faster. You have a personal account on the website; you need to travel and run somewhere much less often, some documents are no longer needed; the bank itself receives them online. Compared to the time spent on various state information systems, where producers have to constantly enter data and of which Rosselkhoznadzor already has several, applying for a loan is not the most time-consuming procedure, says Vadim. – Difficulties – mainly for beginner farmers.

To obtain the status of agricultural producer, which gives the right to 5% preferential loans, it is necessary to work in agriculture for at least one year. That is, let’s say, plant at least two or three hectares of potatoes in the first year and survive. According to Vadim, the next step is simpler. Although, of course, no one will give away tens of millions of rubles like that. Every time you need to prove to the bank your solvency, provide calculations: how you are going to use the money and why.

“In my business plan I argued that a vegetable storage facility would give stability to my business,” Roshka shares her experience. – Which is completely true. The loan was approved.

Photo: Elena ARAKELYAN

SHOULD WE EXPECT CHEAP POTATOES AND VEGETABLES?

It is enough to take a look at the Rosstat data with the prices of the famous “borscht set” to see: in autumn and late spring, these prices often differ by three to four times, or even more (see “Just numbers”) . For example, in recent years cabbage prices have risen and fallen across the country by an average of 20 rubles. and 90 rub. per kilo. For potatoes: between 30 and almost 70 rubles. They jumped, both up and down. And in July 2023, a kilo of potatoes cost only one ruble more than in July 2022.

Only numbers

Photo: Alexey Stefanov

This jump is the price of the storage problem for the average Russian who buys potatoes and cabbage in a store. Of course, completely canceling seasonality is unrealistic. As well as the factors that generally make prices rise. For example, problems related to the repair and maintenance of European-made “potato planters” and “potato harvesters”; We have barely noticed the substitution of imports of such equipment. Or with the increasing cost of the storage facilities themselves (there are also many imported components, and domestic metal and concrete are not getting cheaper). But it is possible to soften the unpleasantness for the consumer “last month there were 30 and today there are 70”.

For autumn 2021, experts estimated the total storage capacity for potatoes and vegetables at approximately 7 million tons, with a harvest of 12 million. As of January 1, 2023, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, it has expanded to approximately 8.8 million tons. .

“According to our calculations, the ratio between new storage facilities and old ones built in Soviet times is about 40 to 60,” says Roman Nuriev. – A large amount of the harvest is still stored in old storage facilities (they allow, at best, to preserve tubers and vegetables until mid-winter – Ed.). However, the situation, of course, has changed significantly for the better.

Well, we’ll check it out in spring. According to the price tags of vegetable stalls.

Ministry of Agriculture – “Komsomolskaya Pravda”

“We can now store most of the vegetables until next season.”

Russian Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev:

– We have various measures to support the construction of vegetable storage facilities. Among them are preferential loans at a rate of up to 5% per year and CAPEX (compensation of part of capital costs) for the construction of large vegetable storage facilities.

But we will not support vegetable warehouses built by economical methods (which the farmers themselves build and it is not clear whether all the necessary requirements are met – Ed.). We support large facilities that allow you to store large volumes of vegetables with understandable temperature conditions.

Oksana Lut, first deputy director of the Ministry of Agriculture:

– The pace of creation of vegetable warehouses is constantly growing. For example, in the last three years the increase in vegetable storage capacity amounted to more than 300,000 tons (8.8 million tons in total). Thus until the end of the season (until next spring – Ed.) we will be able to store most of the vegetables we collect.

And we do not plan to cancel support measures until the market is fully supplied with vegetable storage facilities. But the thing here is that after long storage the taste of vegetables changes and nothing can be done about it. And a lot of people don’t like it. Therefore, we still have to import fresher vegetables from abroad.

* This website provides news content gathered from various internet sources. It is crucial to understand that we are not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of the information presented Read More

Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.
RELATED ARTICLES

Most Popular

Recent Comments