Facilitating rich harvests

Belagro-2011 confirms agrarian business as promising area once more, ever attracting advanced ideas and major investment, uniting business people and states

By Lidia Gospodareva

The show gathered 370 companies from 16 countries, each demonstrating the latest achievements in agricultural machinery and technologies. Two large venues hosted the fair: the Football Manege in Minsk’s Pobediteley Avenue and Gastellovskoe agricultural enterprise field. Large delegations arrived from Russia, Azerbaijan, Ukraine and Lithuania, with thousands of guests in attendance.

Actually, the forum has undergone significant changes since its foundation. Fifteen years ago, it occupied small sites, attracting few delegations and demonstrating advanced technologies of primarily foreign origin. It was far from reality, as agricultural enterprises were deep in debt and could hardly afford to buy new machinery. However, the situation has now changed, with the forum becoming a show of achievements and a venue for contract signing. Last year, hundreds of supply agreements were signed during Belagro. Villages are developing and production facilities are expanding, while villagers gain new possibilities.

Seventy percent of the participants of this year’s forum were local. We are living through hard times, so it may seem inappropriate to feel proud but why should we keep our success secret? This year, for example, Minsk Tractor Works demonstrated its new MTZ-3522 vehicle for the first time; a single ploughing allows soil to be turned, seeded and fertilised. This saves fuel and labour and allows the farming schedule to be met more easily. “The MTZ-3522 can seed a whole farm in just two weeks,” proudly admits the Head of the Design Bureau at Minsk Tractor Works’ Experimental Designs Department, Vasily Gnedchik.

Production Association Gomselmash — a leader in combine harvesters — had various new models on display. Among them was its new Palesse GS16 grain harvester, designed to suit European crops. It can mill up to 16kg per second and, importantly, boasts low energy consumption. Accordingly, this reduces operational costs. Such vehicles do not come cheaply of course (for example, a tractor costs $150,000 in equivalent). Only advanced agricultural companies can afford them. However, other firms must keep pace.

The state is to continue supporting villagers in updating their agricultural machinery, since tractors need replacing after about eight years; combines last around nine years. Moreover, achievements viewed as a breakthrough just a couple of years ago are now considered obsolete. With this in mind, a new programme — envisaging the equipment of agro-industrial enterprises with new machinery and equipment over the coming five years — embraces various possibilities for modernising farm machinery and tractors, such as leasing.

All over the world, over a billion people are starving, while demand for food is ever growing. Belarus can certainly generate revenue from exporting food; in terms of milk and potato production per capita, our country is among the global leaders. According to the Agriculture and Food Minister, Mikhail Rusy, in the first four months of the year, our agro-industrial complex enterprises exported $1.1bn of products — up almost 25 percent on 2010. Moreover, the figure could reach $4bn by the end of the year — not only from traditional sales of meat and milk but from selling vegetables. Farmers have extended their growing of the latter in recent years.

Rural entrepreneurs actively participated in the recent exhibition, attracting many visitors to their stands. The pavilions of farmers producing non-traditional products were of special interest. Really, where else can city folk see rabbits, goats, ostriches and unusual varieties of hens if not at Belagro?

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