Forum of evident innovations
[b]Belarusian Agro Industrial Week becomes platform for progressive experience[/b]Austria and Lithuania, Germany and Poland, Russia and the United States, France and Singapore, Denmark and Ukraine were among the 20+ countries sending 480 companies to the 23rd International Belagro Expon, held in early June in Minsk. The exhibition took place at two sites: Gastellovskoe JSC demonstration field near Minsk and at the football manege on Pobediteley Avenue. The latest models of farm machinery and advanced processing technologies were on show, alongside innovative techniques for crop selection and cattle breeding. The intellectual component was a distinctive feature of Belarusian Agricultural Week, which was held at the same time as Belagro.
Austria and Lithuania, Germany and Poland, Russia and the United States, France and Singapore, Denmark and Ukraine were among the 20+ countries sending 480 companies to the 23rd International Belagro Expon, held in early June in Minsk. The exhibition took place at two sites: Gastellovskoe JSC demonstration field near Minsk and at the football manege on Pobediteley Avenue. The latest models of farm machinery and advanced processing technologies were on show, alongside innovative techniques for crop selection and cattle breeding. The intellectual component was a distinctive feature of Belarusian Agricultural Week, which was held at the same time as Belagro.
The expressions ‘smart engine’, ‘smart cow’ and ‘smart farm’ were heard in various corners at the forum, showing the technological component of today’s innovations. Naturally, efficiency is vital in a world of fierce competition. Belarusian agriculture has made a real breakthrough over the past 20 years, not only providing for the domestic market but earning foreign currency through exports: worth $5bn last year. Modern equipment and technologies are the foundations of this success.
Belarusian compa-nies took about 70 percent of the exhibition area, unsurprisingly. Technical modernisation of the agricultural industry in Belarus became a priority after the collapse of the Soviet Union; in the early 1990s, the country produced just 17 percent of the machinery and equipment farmers needed. Today, domestic enterprises manufacture a whole range of agricultural engines, which sell well at home and abroad. According to Vladimir Semashko, the First Deputy Prime Minister, exports of agricultural machinery and equipment were worth $1.5bn last year. The Belagro Expo is the perfect way to present the progress made in the past year. Mr. Semashko tells us, “The Exposition is a platform for sharing experience. The presence of exhibitors from leading countries across Europe and the CIS allows us to discuss export supply contracts for Belarusian agricultural equipment and technologies, as well as for meat and dairy products and cereals. We’ve also discussed liaisons in livestock breeding.”
Gomselmash is traditionally one of the stands drawing most attention, always impressing visitors with its huge harvesters. It has helped domestic farms upgrade their equipment, supplying about 1,500 new combines annually. This year, Gomselmash introduced its prototype ‘Palessie GS 16’ combine, able to grind 16kg of grain per second. Yet to be released, it’s currently undergoing trials. According to Gennady Svidersky, the Deputy Minister of Industry, demand for such harvesters will grow with rising crop yields; last year, Belarus produced 34.5 tonnes of crop per hectare on average and the figure looks set to rise. Farms aim to collect 10 million tonnes of grain in total this year.
Lidselmash JSC presented its new half-track harvester alongside its detachable 3.1m wide mowing machine, its seed spacing drill (with plastic tanker) and cross-functional pneumatic seed-drill (with fertiliser attachment). Its rakes and mowers are already in production while its seeding-machine will launch this autumn, allowing simultaneous sowing and fertilisation.
Another novelty is Minsk Automobile Works’ three-way tipping grain hopper, as introduced at Belagro. This convenient, high-performance machine is already receiving orders, with Ukraine signing a contract for 1,000 new models. Mr. Svidersky stresses that such forums give enterprises the perfect opportunity to meet customers, demonstrating their achievements and discussing prospects for future work. With so many enterprises gathering in one place, customers flock to see the latest innovations.
The Scientific and Practical Centre for Agriculture Mechanisation at the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus presented over 70 machinery models and types of equipment, designed for soil treatment, cultivation, harvesting and storage of potatoes. Visitors were greatly attracted by machinery for sorting potato tubers by size and shape before distribution; naturally, this helps our farms to sell on the international market, since consistency is key. Alexander Blyznyuk, the Experimental Plant Director (a subdivision of the Scientific and Practical Centre), says proudly, “It’s a completely new development, put into production this year. We’ve sold 20 units to Russia and Ukraine, where rival machines are double the price.”
Livestock also drew large crowds. Of course, it’s always a delight to see cows, goats, poultry, horses and pigs at agro-fairs. There was even a master class in sheep shearing, hosted by Nikolay Koptik, from the Scientific and Practical Centre for Animal Breeding at the National Academy of Sciences. He is the country’s only expert in this field, having trained twenty years ago. He explains, “Sheep shearing is not easy task, especially when you have to deal with sheep which have semi-fine wool — as bred by our scientists at Konyukhi agricultural production cooperative in the Lyakhavichy District. I’m ready to teach the trade to those who are interested and I might add that sheep breeding is growing in popularity in Belarus now. A state programme was adopted in May to provide farms like Konyukhi with government contracts. Wool and meat from sheep are in demand. In fact, the centre has 3,500 sheep. Alexey Kovalchik, who heads the farm, tells us that a stud farm will open in 2016, to raise the population.
Contacts into contracts
Belarusian agribusiness can now compete with that of any country worldwide, believes Alexander Chernogorov, the Russian Deputy Minister of Agriculture, who attended the opening ceremony of Belarusian Agricultural Week this year. His words are confirmed by growing interest from foreign companies in attending Belagro and by the growing number of joint ventures with Russia.
By Lilia Khlystun