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Belagro covers splendid table

Three hundred companies from 18 countries across three continents gather in Minsk for exhibition
By Alina Ilinskaya

I look at the stands with interest, noting that the forum is growing each year. It’s now large enough to encompass Minsk football arena. Part of the exhibition is held in the open air, at Gastellovskoe JSC, in the Minsk District. Not only experts, but those unconnected with the agro-business attend to view the powerful modern machinery. Children are completely thrilled...
Even approaching the site it becomes clear that a huge production fest is planned. Multi-coloured trade fair booths by leading agrarian enterprises operate alongside each other — including the First Minsk Poultry Factory, Borisov’s Meat Processing Plant and Minsk’s Combine of Bread Products. Dozens of varieties of sausages, smoked sausages and baked goods are offered, with everything available for purchase.

Minsk Tractor Works presented 22 machinery models, alongside attachments. MTZ representative Vasily Gnedchik tells us, “People are interested in both small and high powered machinery. They also ask for advice on which tractor is most suitable for particular activities, or enquire about spare parts and purchase terms. The exhibition has only just begun but we’ve already welcomed all our foreign dealers. We’ll show them our innovations while viewing our competitors’ models and attaching equipment. It’s vital to keep track of progress.”

After examining the exhibition’s range, representatives of more than ten Russian regions, as well as those from Ukraine, Poland, Moldova, Kazakhstan and Mozambique, held negotiations in improvised temporary ‘offices’. What are they discussing? Belarusian enterprises and those of the Customs Union have ensured food security for their states and are now ready to enter the markets of third countries, using common brands, notes Leonid Marinich, Acting Agriculture and Food Minister of Belarus. 

Foreign rivals were also active at the exhibition, handing out promotional leaflets. One pressed into my hand was from an enterprise in Poland offering a wide range of meat produce. Listening to my Dictaphone, I noted the words of Sergey Sidorsky, a member of the College Board of the Industry and Agro-Industrial Complex at the Eurasian Economic Commission. He noted, “One litre of milk costs around $1 in Europe while Moscow charges 40 Roubles; prices are significantly lower in Belarus, which is our competitive advantage. Such events as the Belarusian Agro-Industrial Week should promote worthy goods to enjoy demand within the Customs Union and beyond.”

Hundreds of experts in the field of agriculture, food, crop farming and livestock took part, as is traditional, sharing their experience and reporting on their achievements, alongside others from abroad. Walking about Football Manege in Minsk, several foreign languages were evident, although shared interests found a common language, allowing people to understand one another easily. Some used hand gestures to describe the benefits of new fertilisers, while others acted out crop protection from pests. It was as if watching suburban neighbours chatting, although new tractors were being bought, accompanied by discussions on fuel consumption and eco-friendliness. However, it felt as if goods were being recommended by friends.

The Molodechno Dairy Plant stand particularly interested me, presenting one of my favourite cheeses: a blue cheese like the famous (and expensive) Roquefort. The domestic version promises to be sold far more cheaply, so I’ll become a regular customer. Another interesting stand presented the wines, tea and pastries of Krasnodar Krai in Russia. Business circles from Belarus held discussions with the region, establishing business contacts.

The Director for Agro-Industrial Policy Department at the Eurasian Economic Commission, Nadezhda Kotkovets, opened the exhibition, noting, “Although each country present at this forum is unique, we can speak of a common agricultural policy. This is very important for Belarus, being export-oriented. Everything produced needs a buyer, as in Russia and Kazakhstan. Agro-industrial policy includes pricing policy, taxes and subsidies. Our three states need to share a unified position, as our specialists at the Department of Agriculture are working upon.”

The first international Biogas-2012 fair was launched at the exhibition this year, allowing producers to share their experience in the manufacture, assembly and construction of fuel plants.

Thousands of people visited the event, which offered something of interest to everyone — from the latest agricultural machinery to a competition for thoroughbred horses. Moreover, all visitors gained an impression of innovations domestic and foreign.
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