By Yury Chernyakevich
Once again, the biggest international forum gathered a wealth of domestic and foreign agricultural firms, with the grand opening leaving everyone in awe at the wonders on show. Besides viewing amazing pieces of machinery, plenty of tasty food was available for sampling at Minsk’s Football Manege: cheeses from the dairy factories in Lepel and Glubokoe, sliced meat and sausages from the Brest and Gomel Meat-Packing Plants and, even, vintage wines from Krasnodar. Various stands offered tastings and promotions. No one left disappointed — or hungry!
The International Agro Industrial Forum in Minsk became one of the biggest platforms within the CIS long ago. Traditional participants and guests were joined this year by firms from the USA, Singapore and other far-flung places: 400 companies from 18 countries in all. Many attended just to see Belarus’ latest innovative agricultural developments. In fact, last year Belarus generated about US$5 billion from its export of agricultural products and, by 2015, the figure may reach $7 billion. Belarusian products are proving competitive globally, being sold to 63 countries, including Australia, China, Iran, Israel, Mongolia, Mexico and the USA. Dried and condensed milk, butter, cheeses (including cottage cheese), meat and sugar are among the most popular; Belarus is ranked first for condensed milk exports worldwide, fifth for meat and seventh for butter. Such figures speak for themselves, showing that the quality of Belarusian produce is admired and appreciated by nations across the globe.
Belagro-2013, as ever, presented not only the achievements of the agricultural branch but the technical expertise involved in running a successful business. Technology on show included an automatic analyser for beer and malt, machinery for planting potatoes, mechanical tilling machines and the latest in ‘mobile shops’. OJSC Gastellovskoe’s demonstrational field, near Minsk, was used for larger machinery, with a free bus transporting guests from one site to the other. Entry was open to all, allowing everyone to see the impressive capacity of the latest tractors, harvesters, sports utility vehicles, truck cranes, sprinkling-machines, excavators, loaders and cranes. Few can have left in any doubt that innovations continue to appear year on year.
Belferma International Specialised Exhibition was held for the first time, hosted by OJSC Gastellovskoe, focusing mostly on animal breeding. Belarus’ major producers of mixed fodder, antibiotics, feed additives and plant-insecticides were joined by foreign rivals, allowing innovations to be compared. In a more light-hearted vein, guests were invited to take part in a ploughing competition, sheep shearing master classes and the Champion of Taste contest. Meanwhile, the most impressive agricultural equipment was seen in action, to the delight of all. The National Academy of Sciences of Belarus also took part in demonstrations; Vladimir Malokovich, of the NAS’ Bobruisk Biotechnologies, tells us that its environmentally-friendly grain molasses, nutrient yeasts and probiotics are finding markets in Belarus and far beyond.
Needless to say, a rich business programme accompanied the agro industrial week in Minsk, with the Belarusian-Netherlands Business Forum playing ‘first violin’. Many famous companies from the Netherlands took part, including Heineken, (the latter grows brewer’s barley in Belarus) and Philips Lighting (which supplies lighting for hothouses in Belarus). Many farmers were united with new investors and partners, signing preliminary arrangements on mutually beneficial co-operation. Meetings were certainly productive and efficient.