Irkutsk
Ulan-Ude

Blagoveshchensk
Chita
Yakutsk

Birobidzhan
Vladivostok
Khabarovsk

Magadan
Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk

Anadyr
Petropavlovsk-
Kamchatsky
Moscow

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Huge wild plant potential

On the prospects of supporting the cultivation of wild plants in the Far East

Huge wild plant potential
Photo: Elena Vertyankina

Evgeny Akhpashev

Director of the Department of Food and Processing Industry, Ministry of Agriculture of Russia
The Far East is increasingly compared with the sleeping giant recently. The economic potential of the region is huge. It has not only unique natural conditions, but also geographical location, which allows to develop economic cooperation with the countries of the Asia-Pacific region. An important area today is the export of fish and seafood from the Far Eastern Federal District to the rest of Russia. Favorable geographical location of the region, with access to the sea and the presence of land borders with the largest regional consumer of food - China - makes it possible to supply agricultural products abroad.

The development of the region is one of the priority projects of the country's leadership. The Ministry of Agriculture of Russia is already actively working to develop an agrological hub in the Far East, which will act as a wholesale distribution center, accumulating not only local agricultural products, but also coming in transit from all over Russia. Pyotr Stolypin said that leaving the Far East without attention would be a manifestation of enormous state extravagance. We must fully realize the potential of the Far East, integrate these territories as much as possible into the economic space, and create favorable conditions for the life and work of people. The potential of the Far East is enormous. And in many respects the region has serious differences from the rest of Russia. The collection of wild plants (plants, berries, nuts, mushrooms) takes an important place in the economic life of the region.

Since 2015, within the framework of the state program, the Ministry of Agriculture of Russia has been providing state support to agricultural consumer cooperatives in the form of grants for the development of the material and technical base. The volume of federal budget funds allocated for grant support to cooperatives increased from 0,4 billion rubles in 2015 to 1,6 billion rubles in 2017. In 2015-2016, 252 cooperatives in 42 constituent entities of the Russian Federation received support.

Grant support to agricultural consumer cooperatives for the development of the material and technical base is provided in the following areas: milk, meat, potatoes, vegetables, mushrooms, fruits and berries, including wild ones. The grant funds can be used to create and develop production facilities for procurement, storage, additional work, processing, sorting, cooling, preparation for the sale of the specified products.

In 2015-2016, 8 agricultural consumer cooperatives in the amount of 21,1 million rubles from the federal budget received grant support in the field of collection and processing of wild plants. State support in the field of harvesting wild-growing raw materials and production of food products based on them is mainly carried out through sectoral programs at the regional level.

For example, since 2015 in the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, the state program "Development of the agro-industrial complex of the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug for 2014-2020" has been implemented, approved by the Government of the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug dated October 21, 2013 No. 411, which is aimed at developing activities for harvesting, primary processing and the production of food products based on wild-growing raw materials. In particular, legal entities and individual entrepreneurs who purchase wild-growing food resources from the population for their subsequent processing and (or) sale to food processing enterprises, public catering, healthcare and education institutions that have food units in their structure are provided with subsidies in the amount of 250 rubles for one kilogram of wild-growing food raw materials purchased from the population, but not more than the purchase price.

In addition, legal entities and individual entrepreneurs are compensated for documented costs (no more than 70%) associated with the acquisition and delivery of technological equipment for storage and processing of wild food resources, including: refrigeration modules (refrigeration refrigeration units, refrigerated cabinets, refrigerated chests ); equipment and complete technological lines for the primary processing of vegetables, fruits, berries and mushrooms. Annually, to support the activities of the program, funds from the district budget are allocated in the amount of up to 1,5 million rubles.

In the Republic of Yakutia, a set of regional grant support measures is being developed - updating the material and technical base (up to 6% of the cost); on the provision of loans at 5% for the procurement of raw materials; related to assisting in the sale of finished products. The specified sphere of economic activity is also developing through intersectoral regional programs. So, in the framework of solving the problem of supporting small and medium-sized businesses in the Altai Territory, the state program "Support and development of small and medium-sized businesses in the Altai Territory for 2014 - 2020" is being implemented.

In turn, the state program for the development of agriculture and regulation of markets for agricultural products, raw materials and foodstuffs for 2013-2020, approved by the Russian government resolution 14.07.2012 No. 717, implemented at the federal level, does not provide for special state support measures. At the same time, within the framework of the concessional lending mechanism, relevant support is being extended, including to processors of agricultural raw materials, including those that specialize in the processing of wild plants for the canned fruit and vegetable industry.
 
The development of processing of wild plants, for example, for the fruit and vegetable canning industry, is directly dependent on the level of development of the raw material base - harvesting of wild plants. In this regard, the development of procurement is a priority task. The quality of the raw material base is determined, firstly, by the possibility of organizing the supply of raw materials in industrial volumes, and secondly, by the relatively low cost of raw materials for suppliers. At the same time, activities in this area are associated with a number of objective (natural) obstacles, including the significant remoteness and inaccessibility of procurement areas from the centers of consumption and processing, which negatively affect the quality of the raw material base. Accordingly, the key problem of the industry is the insufficient development of infrastructure: roads, storage, communications, as well as insufficient provision of economic entities with the means of collecting and transporting raw materials. Based on this, one can observe a low economic motivation of potential economic entities and, as a result, the lack of industrial processing of wild food resources.
 
The regions of the Far Eastern Federal District have a high potential for development in the field of harvesting and processing of wild plants. The economic attractiveness of this industry in the regions of the Far East is due to the high demand for such products, which is fueled by its special quality characteristics - environmental friendliness, since pesticides and agrochemicals are not used when growing wild plants; raw material potential, high competitiveness, which depends on natural and climatic conditions, the capacity of the sales market. These products are in demand both in the domestic market and in the markets of the member states of the Eurasian Economic Union and third countries, including China and other countries of the Asia-Pacific region. 

Harvesting of wild plants as a sphere of economic activity has a distinct specificity and territorial reference. In addition, the nature of the problems to be solved in the field of harvesting wild plants differs markedly from region to region. In this regard, the elaboration and development of measures of financial and non-financial support should be carried out at the level of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation. The Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation believes that it is advisable to give priority attention to the development of mechanisms of state support that stimulate procurement, which should develop as an independent direction of economic activity. In conditions of limited financial resources, an important direction for the development of harvesting wild plants is cooperation, including the development of long-term partnerships between suppliers and processors. Assistance in the formation of an economic structure in which the purveyor remains the main beneficiary. Creation and development of enterprises of the processing industry with a high degree of unification, that is, equipped with equipment that allows you to provide several lines of food production.
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