Tatarstan begins to export hay to Europe for the first time

Experts disagree: whether the republic will continue to increase exports of “cheap” raw materials with “expensive” logistics

Russia has experienced an explosive growth in the export of forage crops this year — due to the dry European summer, the sales of Russian hay and alfalfa to foreign countries have increased 14 times. Tatarstan has also made a less impressive contribution to the supply of feed abroad, raising export volumes from zero to more than 200 tonnes. The revenue, however, is not impressive: for hay supplied to Poland, Italy and Germany, Tatarstan farmers received only about $75,000, or 5,9 million rubles at the current exchange rate. The analytical department of Realnoe Vremya analysed why the republic has focused on Europe and whether we should expect further growth in feed exports, whether it will turn into a deficit within the region.

Tatarstan is the 15th in the rating of exporting regions

Russia has significantly increased the export of feed crops this year — from 3,700 tonnes in the first seven months of 2019 to 54,700 tonnes from January to August 2020. The data is provided by the customs service.

The explosive growth of feed exports is attributed both to the dry summer, which caused a shortage of its own goods in Europe, and to the active development of this direction in Russia. For example, if last year the regions shipped abroad about 7,000 tonnes of hay a year, then from January to September 2020, about 60,000 were exported, according to the statistics of the Federal Customs Service of Russia, that is, the supplies have already increased sixteenfold.

As the analytical service of Realnoe Vremya found out, Tatarstan has also increased the volume of feed exports. In the first eight months of the year, from January to August 2020, the republic exported a total of 210 tonnes of forage crops. The proceeds, about 75,000 dollars, is small, of course, but it is noteworthy that until this year the republic has not exported forage crops at all. Now Tatarstan is in the list of subjects-exporters of forage crops among 30 Russian regions, where it is the 15th, a little behind Mordovia and Moscow Oblast.

The undisputed leaders in terms of export volumes are traditionally the southern regions — Oryol Oblast, Bryansk Oblast, Voronezh Oblast, Ryazan Oblast, Saratov Oblast and Lipetsk Oblast. Their export figures have already reached thousands of tonnes this year. At the same time, Bryansk Oblast, Saratov and Ryazan last year also did not supply feed abroad.

Speaking of Tatarstan, the main time of supplies from the republic was in the spring-early summer, and the main buyers of Tatarstan feed were not the largest buyers — Poland, Italy and Germany. According to Realnoe Vremya analysts, Latvia and the Netherlands are currently the largest importers of domestic feed products. The republic supplied the same hay, alfalfa, clover, sainfoin, forage cabbage, lupine and other similar forage crops.

The republic opened the sales season in April, exporting the first 22 tonnes of raw materials to Poland for $6,300 and selling 21 tonnes of feed to Germany for $7,000. In May, customs officials recorded deliveries abroad (to Italy) also 22 tonnes of forage crops for $9,600. In June, 22 tonnes of Tatarstan feed were sent to Poland, 64 tonnes — to Italy, and 58,5 tonnes — to Germany. The amount of June supplies exceeded $50,000.

The conjuncture played a role, how the situation will unfold in 2021 — the question is open

Experts' opinions on whether to expect further growth of Tatarstan hay exports are divided. The director general of the Republican Agroindustrial Centre of Investments and Innovations (the operator of the formation and use of Regional Food Fund of the Republic of Tatarstan), Denis Samodurov, in conversation with Realnoe Vremya stressed that the key and the only reason for the significant increase in the export of fodder crops from Tatarstan abroad — market situation, i.e. the increased demand for raw materials in a number of European countries, to which the republican manufacturers quickly responded.

“Now there is such a situation — good prices and the result of this (export of forage crops) is there. I think the republic will continue to increase the volume of exports in this direction, but historically we have not exported much fodder, and the volume of exports of other crops will increase. I do not think that it is forage exports that will increase much," he stressed.

According to Denis Samodurov, the sale of relatively cheap raw materials, such as forage crops, especially to European and Asian countries, depends on expensive logistics, which makes the export of forage crops in normal times a not very profitable enterprise.

Another position is held by the deputy chairperson of the State Council Committee on Ecology, Nature Management, Agro-Industrial and Food Policy, Takhir Khadeev. “We have not yet fully studied the market, we are still very weak, agricultural producers are not yet informed, there is still a lot of work to do to draw conclusions," he added. The expert cited the example of the Republic of Mari El, which, according to him, has long been selling its forage crops in the form of briquettes of compressed green mass. There are a significant number of areas that provide large volumes of such types of crops in Tatarstan, so the republic should start exporting more of certain types of forage crops.

“Today, consumption is increasing, which, of course, gives an impetus to our producers to focus on the areas where money goes. Today, exports are an indicator of the development of the agro-industrial complex. I think that we have a great potential. Starting from 2024, we should export, if I am not mistaken, at $360 million. And the figure is quite real. I believe that every year our farmers will please us more and more, especially in terms of fruit crops — they are very clean and competitive even compared to the same Krasnodar. . But I am sure that we will continue to grow in many cultures. In my opinion, two directions are promising in relation to forage crops — grain and compressed green mass, as in Mari El," Takhir Khadeev concluded.

“Tatarstan farmers have no problems with harvesting, forage crops are purchased for 1,5—2 years”

Federal experts seriously fear that a sharp increase in the activity of Russian regions in the direction of increasing feed exports may create some problems for the livestock sector. Dmitry Rylko, the director general of the Institute for Agricultural Market Studies (IKAR), stressed that difficulties with purchasing feed have already been experienced by some dairy farms in the south of the country, where the dry weather was the same as in Europe. Because of this, experts predict increased competition and, as a result, the possibility of an increase in feed prices in 2020-2021.

Tatarstan livestock breeders should not have any problems with harvesting fodder for the winter, despite an explosive growth of exports, Kamiyar Baytemirov, the chairperson of the Association of Farms of the Republic of Tatarstan, said in a conversation with Realnoe Vremya. According to him, the start of forage crop exports in the republic is quite a “planned action”, and not a situational vector set by weather conditions and low feed yields in Europe, and therefore the beginning of work of Tatarstan farmers in this direction should be evaluated extremely positively.

“Nothing under the law of Lomonosov just disappears and does not appear. The start of export of raw materials is a natural process. with the support of the state, appropriate decisions were made to promote the export of their own products, in particular forage crops. Our agricultural producers are focused on this now, this direction will develop, demand creates supply," he explained. “Our farmers have no problems with the preparation of forage crops and should not be, because everything is done in advance, forage crops are planned and purchased for 1,5-2 years in advance. Farmers have a certain calculation, according to livestock. The decision is made by the head of the farm, and, of course, everyone takes into account that the situation may repeat in 2010, when there really was a deficit. When selling products, farmers leave a stock.

Denis Samodurov also agreed with Baytemirov, stressing that the republic has at least 1,5 years of feed reserves. The absence of difficulties in purchasing forage crops for the winter this year was confirmed to Realnoe Vremya by large livestock breeders of the republic. The head of the Latypov family farm from the village of Dubyazy in the Vysokogorsky district of the Republic of Tatarstan, who currently maintain about 130 dairy cows, Minsina Latypova, stressed that the harvesting of forage crops has already been completed and neither she nor her colleagues-livestock breeders have any additional difficulties.

By Olga Golyzhlybina