Will the positive trend in berry production in Russia continue?
Will the positive trend in berry production in Russia continue?
The share of farmland in total areas for berry growing in Russia is constantly growing
In Russia, it seems that the 25-year trend for a reduction in the area for growing berry crops is changing. The growth is still modest – from 13.2 thousand ha in 2015 to 14.7 thousand ha in 2018, but accelerating. According to the Berry Union, the growth of areas under berry crops occurs mainly in farms. Does this mean that it is the farmers and small producers who will determine the situation on the berry market in the coming years?
The share of farmland in total areas under berry growing is constantly growing. Irina Koziy, General Director of the Berry Union and IA FruitNews, provided the following data: the share of farm land in berry growing has already exceeded 40% in Russia. At the same time, the average yield of berry crops in farms is two times higher than that of agricultural producers – 1.7 tons / ha and 0.81 tons / ha. Rosstat data also confirms the leading role of small and medium-sized berry producers in Russia, AgroXXI writes.
Despite the growth of areas under berry crops and increased yields, Russian farmers are still very far from saturating the domestic market with their own products. According to the Berry Union, most of the Russian market is imported.
Source: Berry Union
However, berry producers in Russia intend to make a difference. Agricultural producers began active steps in building up their own production with joint work on breeding fruit and berry crops.
To help the “big” science
In the berry sub-sector, as in some other segments of Russian agricultural production, a significant part of the planting and seed material is imported. In addition to political and price risks, there are purely technological ones. Plants bred in warmer climatic zones do not perform well in Russian conditions. That is why many of the members of the Association of Planting Material Producers (APPM), with suitable nursery areas and sufficient technical equipment, have begun, independently or with the help of “big” science, to engage in selective work on fruit and berry crops. The result of this work is our own patented varieties and in vitro production of planting stock (cloning). For example, Nursery School School LLC in the Nizhny Novgorod Region bred 5 raspberries. Over the course of several years, Agrofirma Rostok LLC has been conducting selection work to create winter-hardy, high-yielding varieties of cherries, cherries for industrial gardening and small-scale farms.
NPK Mikroklon from the Moscow Region produces virus-free planting material for raspberries, currants, gooseberries, strawberries and blueberries by the method of clonal propagation. In addition, together with the Pushchino State Institute of Natural Sciences and the Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry, the company takes part in the project “Marker selection of berry crop lines with improved economically valuable traits” (project No. 14.574.21.0149).
The research and production center of biotechnology “Phytogenetics” from the Tula region produces improved planting stock, creates its own virology laboratory. The total production volume of the main crops of the Phytogenetics Research and Production Center alone in 2019 amounted to at least 1 million plants.
As it turned out, agricultural producers with their accumulated scientific, technical and personnel potential can carry out significant amounts of scientific work. It remains only to “fit” this activity of agricultural producers into the framework of the federal Subprogram on scientific and breeding activities.
Pest and disease protection
However, there are problems that agricultural producers themselves will not be able to cope with, despite all the accumulated resources and efforts made. One of them is pesticides to protect berry crops. Recently, a round table was held at the Ministry of Agriculture dedicated to solving this problem. So far no solutions have been found. Meanwhile, the industry will not be able to pay 4-9 million rubles for registration: if you register everything we need, the cost of registration will be comparable to the total industry turnover for the year.
According to experts of the Berry Union, plant protection products (if applied in sufficient quantities) can save about half of the crop, which is now being lost due to plant diseases or pests. This means that the volume of production in current areas may double, and the cost will fall, which will affect the price for the consumer.
The lack of modern means of protecting berry crops from most diseases and pests is one of the most important problems of the industry. Only raspberries and garden strawberries are attacked by more than 200 pests, including such dangerous ones as raspberry and strawberry weevil, spider mites and strawberry mites, strawberry leaf beetle, ants and slugs. According to Elena Kazakova, agronomist at the Tula Berry farm, many producers are faced with the following problem: in the Russian Federation, there are practically no pesticides that are approved for use on these crops. There are only two registered drugs that are suitable for use on industrial plantings.
Despite the demand from producers of berry crops, agricultural chemists are in no hurry to respond to it. The fact is that developing from scratch and registering domestic drugs is expensive. And the areas of intensive berry cultivation in Russia are still small, the existing market size for each individual preparation does not exceed 1 million rubles per year. With such a comparison of numbers, no supplier would consider it reasonable to register even the best drug, experts say.
The lack of necessary plant protection products is especially worrying for berry growers given the warm winter this year. It is known that pests in such conditions are especially active. While the issue of the availability of plant protection products for berry crops is being resolved at the federal level, the producers themselves are establishing interaction to exchange useful experience. So, in the Michurinsky district of the Tambov region on the basis of the Center for Horticulture Development named after Doctor of Agricultural Sciences, Professor V.G. Mukhanina ”created the first and only school of gardeners in Russia. During the year, about 100 beginner farmers from all over the country study at the school. In addition, you can apply here for daily advice on various issues.
So what will happen to the positive trend in the production of berries in Russia? The answer to this question depends on how much the federal authorities hear domestic producers and support them. So far, the Ministry of Agriculture of Russia has announced a forecast for the production of berry crops at the level of 19 thousand tons, which is 1.6% more than in 2019.
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