How Azerbaijani investors froze juice project in Tatarstan

The minister of agriculture of Tatarstan complains about lower prices and problems with product sales

How Azerbaijani investors froze juice project in Tatarstan Photo: Maksim Platonov

The minister of agriculture and food of the Republic of Tatarstan is going to maintain leading positions in Russia by the end of the year but continues complaining about decreasing prices and problems with the sale of products. At the same time, functionaries are on the go – the Chinese market that is hosting negotiations on flour supply appeared on the horizon as quite a real prospect for agricultural producers. Meanwhile, Realnoe Vremya's reporter found out the fate of an Azerbaijani juice factory whose construction was to begin in Laishevo District as early as 2015. Realnoe Vremya tells the details.

Still first in milk and potatoe production

First Deputy Minister of the Tatarstan Ministry of Agriculture Nikolay Titov first announced the forecast of the volume of gross agricultural products at the level of 260,4 million rubles, which is 5,1% more than the analogous indicator in 2016. A growth is expected this year in both horticulture (+10,9%) and animal husbandry (+1,5%). So Tatarstan can be first in the country in milk and potato production, fifth in sugar beet, seventh in meat and poultry production, seventh in grain harvest and ninth in vegetable picked from open-air and covered grounds. According to Titov, they aren't going to cede these positions.

The republic achieves goods results also due to state programmes. According to them, for instance, driveways to farms are built, fleet parks are repaired, scholarships to support farms are given. These programmes are scheduled to continue working in 2018 as well. For instance, a technical modernisation programme that allows to not only reduce the decrease of existing capacities of vehicles but also start to increase them. Nowadays the republic has 159 horsepower per 100 ha of arable land, while an average Russian level is 154 horsepower. Last year, this indicator in Tatarstan was 152 horsepower. A completed federal programme titled '1432' that supposes a purchase of agricultural vehicles with a discount is another support of the country whose fulfilment is estimated by Titov as successful. Thanks to it, the speaker says they managed to save about 300 million rubles.

A completed federal programme titled '1432' that supposes a purchase of agricultural vehicles with a discount is another support of the country whose fulfilment is estimated by Titov as successful. Photo: prav.tatarstan.ru

Reduced prices for poultry, pork and milk

But all this story with growing indicators has a fly in the ointment that the very agricultural ministry has been talking about for a long time. If the number of manufactured products grows, prices and demand for it, on the contrary, leave a lot to be desired.

''Speaking of gross production, there is satisfaction, joy, results have been achieved. It's like music to our ears. But we have to receive so many calls from agricultural producers. Nowadays grains have almost fallen twice in price, sugar – also almost twice. Last year, we sold in at fairs 45 rubles [per kg], today we're selling it at fairs at 30 rubles, while the prime cost is 26-27 rubles,'' Nikolay Titov complained.

Prices for poultry, pork and milk also reduced.

''At the end of the year, we lack over 1,5 billion of revenue on these issues. It's a very sore point,'' Titov noted. He didn't remember a case with falling milk prices by New Year during his service.

Like it was noted many times, suppliers from the near abroad countries, for instance, from Belarus who are bottom-feeders in the Russian market and offer their products, play not the least role. In answer to this question asked by Realnoe Vremya's reporter, Minister of Agriculture of Tatarstan Marat Akhmetov replied Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev also had been asked this question and the decision was expected from federal authorities.

''Nowadays grains have almost fallen twice in price, sugar – also almost twice.'' Photo: prav.tatarstan.ru

To bring agricultural products from Tatarstan to other countries often turns out to be unprofitable. Nevertheless, after the creation of Foodcity Tatar House whose opening was personally visited by Nikolay Titov, there is a prospect for sale of regional agricultural products.

''Now bridges for sale of agricultural products of Tatarstan via this trading house are arranged,'' Titov said to Realnoe Vremya about the current state of affairs. Negotiations on the sale of flour to China are held in particular.

Federal subsidies on railway transportation render considerable help in exporting to China. However, despite active attempts to become the 14 th subsidised region, Tatarstan hasn't been included in the programme.

Fight against dealers

In continuation of the topic about the problems with the sale of agricultural products, the deputy minister strictly commented to Realnoe Vremya on the information that appeared in social networks that Tatarstan farmers had to sell their milk not to factories at 14 rubles per litre but dealers at a reduced price of 9 rubles.

''We systematically follow prices in municipal settlements and dishonest milk collectors under control of the ministry or ask to stop their activity or regulate their prices,'' Nikolay Titov commented.

He reminded Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov who had charged supervising bodies and regional heads with controlling this issue paid his attention to the situation. In case of any facts, the functionary asked to turn to the ministry where there will be 'a very acute reaction'.

While laying the capsule of construction of the juice factory and logistic centre of Benkons Group form Azerbaijan, Rustam Minnikhanov told the investors as instruction that ''in 2017, we must be drinking juices from your factory''. Photo: Maksim Platonov

Still without juice and Russian-Israeli cluster

Nikolay Titov also commented to Realnoe Vremya the news that Russia and Israel had agreed to develop a joint project in the milk industry, which presupposes construction of milk and commodity clusters in Tatarstan and other regions. It turned out there was nothing clear in this issue.

It became known another project that was announced as early as 2015 is in the same state. While laying the capsule of construction of the juice factory and logistic centre of Benkons Group form Azerbaijan, Rustam Minnikhanov told the investors as instruction that ''in 2017, we must be drinking juices from your factory''. Expecting the construction of a big factory whose product was supposed to be sold both in Tatarstan and outside, the republic discussed all infrastructural moments by meeting the new large-scale investment project halfway. However, this year we couldn't see Azerbaijani juices. And it seems we won't be able to do it in the next years. Answering Realnoe Vremya's question, Titov explained the investor had interrupted the project due to the absence of money.

By Maria Gorozhaninova