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Bean farmers

The main producer of soybeans in the Far Eastern Federal District - sets ambitious goals for the development of the production of this agricultural crop, in conditions when the export of soybeans to China was slowed down by protective duties.

The Amur Region plans to achieve a breakthrough in the production of soybeans and processed products. This year it is planned to increase the threshing of soybeans by a third by last year, and in a few years to raise its processing to 70% of the harvest. However, the introduction a month ago by the state of a 30 percent duty on agricultural exports makes the situation in the industry uncertain. What are the prospects for the Amur agro-industrial complex, whose competitiveness in comparison with other regions of Russia is clearly expressed in geographical proximity to the markets of China, EastRussia found out.

Bean farmers
Photo Shoot: Ken ritchie from the website Pixabay


Currently, 36% of soybeans are processed in the Amur Region, but in the future the region should bring this figure to 70%, Governor Vasily Orlov said. Thus, with a gross harvest of 1,3 million tons, namely, such a crop is planned to be obtained by the end of 2021, it is necessary to send at least 900 thousand tons of culture for processing. So far, the total soybean processing capacity of the region is 470 thousand tons annually.  

Today, intraregional consumption accounts for 40% of the total volume of soybeans produced in the Amur Region. Of this share, 25% (or 100 thousand tons) is provided for seeds, 70% (300 thousand tons) - for industrial processing: obtaining oil, meal, flour, soy protein isolate, lecithin. Another 5% (25 thousand tons) goes to feed.

At the same time, local processors have recently faced the problem of the availability of raw materials. The demand for soybeans, as well as for many other agricultural crops (primarily cereals), has intensified in foreign markets. The increase in world prices was influenced by the low yields of soybeans in the Americas. In addition, in China, as a result of trade wars with the United States, they abandoned North American soybeans, which also raised the cost of Russian raw materials.

If in 2019, 1 kg of Amur soybeans under an export contract to the PRC cost 33-35 rubles. (in the domestic market - 30-32 rubles), then in 2020 - 42-45 rubles. Moreover, in the seaport of Dalian, agricultural crops were sold for 65 rubles.

Against this background, the Ministry of Agriculture of the Amur Region informed, the purchase price for local processors rose to 40-45 rubles. and a number of companies were forced to stop processing soybeans and mothball their production facilities. "In 2020, industrial processing received 27% of the gross harvest of soybeans, the utilization rate of existing capacities was 55%," the ministry said.

Photo: magazine “Agroindustrial complex of the Amur region "

The situation affects the investment attractiveness of the processing sector. Thus, the Sodruzhestvo group of companies is considering a project to create a soybean processing enterprise in the Amur region, but the final decision largely depends on a stable raw material base. “Guaranteed supply of raw materials for factories is possible only if the price of soybeans is competitive on the domestic market. According to investors, this can be achieved only if reasonable, but what is very important, permanent duties on the export of legumes are established, ”Oleg Turkov, Minister of Agriculture of the Amur Region, explained earlier. 


Exports from the Amur Region account for 35% of the total volume of soybeans produced (2020 thousand tons were exported in 390), with 98% of foreign trade supplies going to China. For comparison, 25% of the harvested crop is exported to other regions of Russia. The export of soybeans and processed products to the domestic market (deliveries were organized to 41 constituent entities of the Russian Federation) over the past year amounted to more than 200 thousand tons.

The main part is sent for further processing to the Irkutsk Oil and Fat Plant (MZhK). In much smaller volumes, raw materials are supplied in the form of feed to the Omsk, Belgorod, Kaliningrad regions, Khabarovsk and Altai regions.

To provide the country's processing industries with raw materials, the Russian government introduced protective measures. The amount of the duty was 30% of the customs price of the product, but not less than € 165 per 1 ton.

The innovation entered into force on February 1, and its validity period is calculated until June 31, 2021. The Ministry of Economic Development explained the decision by preventing an increase in domestic prices for soy products, which are widely used by food industry enterprises. According to Mikhail Maltsev, Executive Director of the Fat-and-Oil Union, the soybean industry in Russia is developing rapidly, in connection with this, the need to provide processing plants with raw materials is growing.


“If 10 years ago soybeans were grown only in a few regions, today this culture can be found in almost every region. The demand for soybeans is growing due to the development of processing, widespread production of soybean oil and soybean meal. Over the past 10 years, the largest domestic companies have implemented a number of projects with a total investment of 180 billion rubles. to expand the capacity for the production of soybean meal more than three times - up to 4,5 million tons per year, "Mikhail Maltsev told EastRussia.

It is noteworthy that before the entry into force of the protective duties, there was an explosive growth in soybean shipments to the PRC. In January and half of February, 223 thousand tons of agricultural crops were exported from the Amur Region - in a month and a half, the amount of supplies exceeded half of last year's exports (the regional Ministry of Agriculture specified that the export volume at the beginning of this year also included shipments under contracts concluded at the end of last year).

A similar trend was observed in other regions of the country. According to Vladimir Petrichenko, general director of the analytical company ProZerno, if the protective duty had not been introduced, soybeans would not have been exported from Russia so actively. “This record export in January simply canceled all plans to deliver Amur soybeans from the Far East to the central regions of Russia,” he said in an interview with Agroinvestor. To increase the competitiveness of Far Eastern raw materials in the domestic market, from February 1 to December 31, 2021, the railway tariff for its transportation to stations located in the Siberian, Volga and Central Federal Districts was zeroed.


There are ups and downs on export restrictions. For example, Vladimir Petrichenko believes that serious damage has been inflicted on the farmers of the Far East, besides, since March 1, the customs duty on wheat and corn has been increased, for the export of which a certain rate is also placed in the agricultural industry. It was also suggested that the 30 percent duty would lead to a decrease in the price of soybeans to an unprofitable level, which is why many agricultural enterprises are threatened with bankruptcy.  

Igor Nekhayev, chairman of the NP of peasant (farmer) farms, agricultural cooperatives and personal subsidiary plots (AKKOR) of the Amur Region "Far Eastern Agrarian", noted that if the duty had not been introduced, the price of 1 kg of soybeans on the domestic market would have been overclocked to 70 rubles. “On the one hand, it would be easier for us. But then all subsequent products would have risen in price for you as a consumer, '' he told EastRussia. - Abroad helps out, but abroad will not feed us. Now, if China abandons our soybeans as North American, what will we do? We need to develop our own production. Otherwise it will turn out like in today's situation with pollock. "

Mikhail Maltsev says that due to the protective measures taken, the cost of soybeans in the Far East has slightly adjusted, so the competitiveness of Far Eastern soybeans has increased. Now many factories located in the Central Federal District, he said, are planning to expand the volume of purchases of soybeans at the expense of the Far Eastern regions. “At the same time, we consider it an omission that there is no preferential tariff for the supply of soybeans from the Far East to the Northwestern Federal District, where the largest Russian soybean processing facilities are located,” stressed the Executive Director of the Oil and Fats Union.

It is noteworthy that thanks to the zeroing of the railway tariff, the price has also stabilized for soybean producers, Vladimir Yusupov, executive director of AKKOR of the Amur Region, told EastRussia. According to him, when the government's decision to increase the duty was announced, the cost of soybeans immediately fell to 32-35 rubles. But then it became known about the preferential tariff for transportation, and the price began to rise. Now it is entrenched in the region of 40-42 rubles. for 1 kg.

“In addition to the zeroing of the transport tariff, which became a kind of compensation to the Far East for export restrictions, the situation has leveled off due to increased competition for soybeans among Russian traders. Many producers and soybean processors sent their products abroad at a high price, apparently in the hope that there would be saturation of the domestic market or soybeans would become cheaper, but in the end they themselves were left without raw materials. This is a paradox, and the situation was typical for the Amur Region as well, ”said Vladimir Yusupov.

How events will develop further, he added, is difficult to predict. According to him, the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East is monitoring the situation, and perhaps by the end of March, the department will present its recommendations. The interlocutor of EastRussia in the regional Ministry of Agriculture did not rule out that restrictions on the export of agricultural crops could last after July 1.


At a meeting of the government of the Russian Federation, which was held on March 10, chaired by the head of state, Minister for the Development of the Far East and the Arctic Alexei Chekunkov said that in order to overcome natural and infrastructural restrictions in agriculture in the Far Eastern Federal District, it is proposed to declare a moratorium for 10 years or introduce compensatory mechanisms for export duties on oilseeds, which form the basis of the harvest in the Far Eastern regions. "The domestic market for the consumption of soybeans and rapeseed in the Far East is insignificant, it is inefficient to transport them for processing across the entire country," the minister said. At the same time, in order to prevent cases when products are exported abroad at a reduced price specified in the documents (according to the Federal Tax Service for the Amur Region, in 2020, nine large exporters exported soybeans worth 2,7 billion rubles, but less than 1%), Aleksey Chekunkov proposed to conduct an experiment on the sale of agricultural crops through a commodity exchange.

The idea of ​​the Ministry for the Development of the Russian Far East was not supported by the Minister of Economic Development of the Russian Federation Maxim Reshetnikov. “Regarding the moratorium on export duties for the Far East, to be honest, I’m afraid the WTO will not understand us and will simply“ overturn ”us, because we cannot introduce export duties in one part of the country and not in another part of the country,” he said. the head of the Ministry of Economic Development, not ruling out, however, the transformation of the issue of duties in relation to agricultural producers in the Far East.

In turn, the government and the Ministry of Agriculture of the Amur Region consider the introduction of the export duty a timely step. “But the rate of 30%, in our opinion, is very high and unfair in relation to agricultural producers who are participants in the export of soybeans. In order to support the soybean processing industry in Russia and in order to avoid a negative impact on the development of the plant growing industry in the current situation, it would be possible to introduce a much smaller duty, but for a longer period, perhaps for a year or more, so that the market does not feel feverish, since export contracts are concluded in advance and their violations negatively affect not only the relations of partners, but also the material component of exporters, "EastRussia explained in the relevant ministry.

However, there are other opinions. “Now there is an unprecedented grain harvest in Australia. Due to the fact that Russia has introduced duties on grain, this country is conquering markets in India and Southeast Asia, where the Russian Federation previously supplied wheat. Therefore, I would not dare to say that it is necessary to leave the duty for a long time, - says Vladimir Yusupov. - The market is interested in competition, which leads to an effective strategy. Now the export of our soybeans is actually severely restricted. But how will this turn out further, when there is a good harvest in Argentina and Brazil, and what will we have in China? Let's stay with our soybeans, but with a disrupted market? "

For your information, in 2019, the export of agricultural products from the Amur Region amounted to $ 139 million. The largest share of revenue - 93% - fell on soybeans and grains.



In 2021, it is planned to increase production in the Amur Region for all major types of agricultural products. “Several factors are involved in laying the crop, namely the availability of high-quality seed material, the use of protective equipment and fertilizers, the use of modern technologies, as well as natural and climatic conditions. Today the region has all the conditions to produce the given volume of crop production. For this, seeds of higher reproduction are purchased, the sown area of ​​high-yielding crops, more resistant to waterlogging, is being purchased, mineral fertilizers, plant protection products are purchased, cultural and technical measures are being carried out, the machine and tractor fleet is being updated, and drying and cleaning equipment is being modernized. The only thing that cannot be controlled is the natural and climatic conditions, ”said the Ministry of Agriculture.

Over the past two years, the weather has presented the agricultural industry with unpleasant surprises: cyclones accompanied by thunderstorms and heavy rains, in places with hail. Intense rainfall leads to the accumulation of rainwater in the fields, and as a result, to strong, and in some places excessive soil moisture, which is why agricultural producers do not receive the planned harvest volume.

By the way, we faced similar problems in the Primorsky Territory. During the past season, several typhoons passed over Primorye, and although there was no large-scale flooding in the region, the soil was waterlogged throughout the growing season, which affected the yield. The first best soybean crops were harvested by the farmers with a yield of 25-27 centners per hectare, while in waterlogged areas it was 14 centners.


Optimistic forecasts are given for this year. As the Ministry of Agriculture of the Amur Region informed, it is expected to produce 530 thousand tons of grain crops, which is 11,5% higher than in 2020. Even bigger plans are connected with the production of soybeans: it is supposed to collect one third more than last year - up to 1 million 329 thousand tons. This volume may become the maximum in post-Soviet history. So far, the largest threshing of soybeans was obtained in 2014, 2017 and 2018 - respectively, 1 million 61 thousand tons, 1 million 55 thousand tons and 1 million 266 thousand tons (for comparison, in 2020, the harvest amounted to 978 thousand tons ).

Over the past decades, the sown area in the Amur region has grown significantly. In 2000, 197,5 thousand hectares were allotted for soybeans in the Amur Region, in 2017 - 964 thousand.However, in the last year's campaign, it was planned to allocate 861,5 thousand hectares for sowing, in fact, due to the consequences of the disaster, even fewer areas - 840,6 thousand hectares.

As Igor Nekhaev noted, the plans for the development of soybean production are realistic if the state provides effective assistance to agricultural producers. “We need modernization of farms, this also applies to technology, and warehouse infrastructure, and much more,” sums up the chairman of AKKOR of the Amur region.

“There is no need to say that now in the region some grandiose efforts are being made to improve the yield and productivity of agriculture. And the financial condition of enterprises, the technological base associated with equipment, fertilizers, etc., is difficult, - emphasizes Vladimir Yusupov. - In 2020, according to the Department of Land Reclamation of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation, the region has not mastered 110 million rubles. federal funds for land improvement. This suggests that land reclamation in the region is not developing, despite the fact that recently we have a problem of waterlogged cultivated areas. "


On the territory of the Amur Region, there are 233 reclamation systems (drainage and irrigation), with a total area of ​​agricultural land of 246,6 thousand hectares. The structures (roads, canals, bridges, etc.) of the 31 amelioration system are partly or wholly in federal ownership. Operational management is carried out by the Federal State Budgetary Institution "Management of the Amurmeliovodkhoz", the area of ​​reclaimed land is 72 thousand hectares. At the same time, about 200 land reclamation systems are ownerless. Actual wear is over 80%.

There are many legal gaps in the land reclamation issue. One of the main problems is the lack of use rights (property or lease) for ownerless reclamation systems. The procedure for their registration is complicated and costly in terms of both finances and time.

“Today it is land reclamation that is a factor in obtaining high, stable yields by agricultural producers. The development of the reclamation complex and the effective use of existing systems and the construction of new ones should become one of the priority areas for the development of the region's agro-industrial complex in the coming years, ”says Governor Vasily Orlov.

The state subprogram "Development of land reclamation of agricultural lands in Russia" provides support to agricultural producers who are reconstructing and building new reclamation systems. A mechanism for granting subsidies has been developed in the region - in the amount of 75% of the actual costs incurred, but not more than the maximum amount of the cost of work established by the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation - 85,4 thousand rubles. per 1 hectare. It is now necessary to make this process work in full force.

Perhaps then it will turn out to grow so much soybeans that its producers will not need to be “forced to patriotism”, and the harvest will be enough both to load local factories and to sell abroad.
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