Expert: Census results have demonstrated a maintained and developing potential for agricultural production

5 october 2017

What are the labor and land resources in Russia? How are they used? What is the size and structure of cultivated areas in Russia? How many animals are bred by farmers, what machines do they use? These and many other issues and aspects are necessary to plan the development of the Russian agricultural sector. This type of data was analyzed by specialists in the context of the 2016 All-Russian Agricultural Census, the results of which were provided by the Federal Statistics Service on the eve of the event.

From the practical point of view, this data is important in the context of import substitution and food import embargo, Gleb Pokatovich, Deputy Head of the Analytical Center, believes. "We have managed to replace most items of import products missing due to the introduced counter-sanctions. And in this context, the census is important precisely because it shows the agricultural production potential and allows to plan and set priorities including those for the development of new government programs that will be operational after 2010," Pokatovich said at the press-conference of Russia Today.

Despite the importance of government aid to the agricultural industry, the main driver of agricultural production development is the market, Pokatovich is convinced. "If we take a look at the scope of government aid and subtract the money that does not come directly to farmers, we will see a visible fluctuation of agricultural product output, which is influenced by the weather, the market and other factors," Pokatovich explained.

The government spends large amounts to support agriculture but the industry's output is great too: the statistics demonstrates a stable growth of agricultural product volume per each ruble of government aid.

"The rural area support program plays a very important role," Pokatovich believes. "On the one hand, the main volume of government aid is concentrated in the more agriculturally productive regions, and about 40 regions regularly receive not more than 1 per cent of the total volume of government subsidies. And the reason is that this country is big and diverse, and the conditions for agricultural production vary greatly. On the other hand, there is an imbalance. But in a number of regions, agriculture actually performs a social function, and this is largely the focus of the rural development program." The expert suggested that, in addition to traditional objectives (maintenance of employment, income levels of villagers, etc.), other objectives may be taken into account.

Traditionally, the discussion of agricultural development addresses the issue of personal subsidiary plots and small agricultural organizations. "The share of personal subsidiary plots in total agricultural production decreases slightly, but at the same time, its marketability increases," Pokatovich noted. "We communicate with food industry representatives, and our colleagues often say that they tend to look at common data on agricultural production of particular products, but do not understand which products they can use in their production process. First, the number of products they can use is increasing, and second, the important trend demonstrated by the census is that agriculture is becoming more powerful and efficient: the efficiency of the machines used by producers is increasing, and there is a noticeable increase in the demand for powerful tractors. Surely, there are some negative consequences: for example, efficient agriculture requires fewer workers. And here the social factor comes into play, which must be taken into account when planning government aid. And this, in my opinion, is the most important role of the census."