On 24 April, a delegation headed by the Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development of the Federal Republic of Germany Gerd Mueller paid a visit to the heart of the Central Black Earth region. Voronezh State Agricultural University named after Emperor Peter I hosted a conference dedicated to the role of Russia and Germany in the provision of staple food to the world population. Stefan Duerr, President of EkoNiva Group acted as a moderator of the meeting, which became the highlight of the visit.
Governor Aleksandr Gusev, Vice Chairman of the Regional Government Viktor Logvinov, and the President of the Association of Farming Enterprises and Agricultural Cooperatives Vladimir Plotnikov delivered welcoming speeches and made relative reports.
‘Russia is one the largest countries across the globe, which is incredibly rich in resources’, says Gerd Mueller. The country accounts for 10% of all the arable land, 20% of fresh water, and 25% of woodland of the planet. Having made great strides in agriculture for the last 20 years, Russia has become a principal partner for Germany and Europe on the whole in supplying food to the world population. Voronezh oblast is one of the most developed agricultural regions in Russia, and I feel deeply honoured to give a talk at this university to the young generation, who are supposed to encourage further development of the industry. By sharing experience and introducing advanced practices of the latest research and development, all together we will forge ahead.’
Against the general background of the world’s population explosion, Gerd Mueller emphasised the importance of not only food supply, but the orientation of agriculture to the principles of sustainability, careful attitude to soil and compliance with the highest agricultural production standards. So, one of the most topical issues is the development of organic production, in which respect EkoNiva can be held as an example.
‘The collaboration of Russia and Germany is a considerable step forward in solving food provision problems of the whole world’, comments Aleksandr Gusev. The experience and projects implemented by EkoNiva give us a notable example of how effective and fruitful such cooperation could be. Within the last few years, profound positive changes have taken place in the farming sector of the region. Choosing the application of innovations in agriculture and fervently supporting investing activities, we have managed to kindle interest among numerous entrepreneurs. Stefan Duerr was among the first who made use of the favourable conditions provided by the government. For many years, EkoNiva Group President has been expanding production facilities in several districts of the oblast. Currently, he is our largest investor.’
The Governor assumes that the resource of bilateral cooperation in agriculture is far from being exhausted. Organic farming and advanced grain processing are high on the agenda. That is why the experience and best practices of the German colleagues are exceptionally valuable to the region.
The Vice Chairman of the Regional Government Viktor Logvinov proved the regional achievements in the farming sector by sharing last year’s results.
‘At the end of last year, exports of the local production totaled 540 billion US dollars, which is 19% higher than in 2017’, said Viktor Logvinov. Following the results of 2018, the overall production of Voronezh oblast amounted to more than 200 billion rubles making the oblast rank number 5 in Russia. Besides, the region is the fourth largest milk producer in the country. We’ve ensured our own food security and now we are ready to boost exports. We have created all the required conditions to attract investors.’
Vladimir Plotnikov, First Deputy Chairman of the Agricultural Committee of the State Duma and the President of the Association of Farming Enterprises and Agricultural Cooperatives stressed that the government is working intensively on the programme aimed at the comprehensive development of agricultural areas.
‘EkoNiva is an outstanding example of the success you can achieve in the development of the rural areas taking on board the most advanced scientific and technical achievements’, continues Vladimir Plotnikov. I would like to invite the participants of the conference to visit the modern dairies of the company and get to know its experience in more detail.’
Stefan Duerr mentioned that soon it will be 30 years since he came to Russia as a trainee for the first time. In his opinion, the visit of Mr. Mueller and his frankness towards the youth are a positive impulse for enhancing the student exchange programme in Russia and Germany.
‘Study, acquire knowledge and then come back to Voronezh oblast’, said Stefan Duerr. We are always ready to help young specialists, who love their work and are eager to continue their professional growth.’
The conference ended up with the solemnly signed Letter of Intent Concerning Fostering an Exchange between National Farmer Organisations in Transition Period.
After the conference, the delegation visited Verkhniy Ikorets dairy to get acquainted with the livestock housing and herd management system and sample EKONIVA dairy products. The Minister was impressed with the equipment and well-adjusted operation of the dairy. When examining the work of the rotary milking parlour, Gerd Mueller took on the role of a machine operator putting on an apron and joining the other specialists.
By Aleksandr KUTISHCHEV