In accordance with the Food Security Doctrine, the indicator (indicator) for potato production in the Russian Federation should not fall below 95% of the level of self-sufficiency.
Given the balanced demand and the prevailing structure of the target use of potatoes in the country, including personal consumption (according to nutritional standards), seed consumption, and the use of part of the crop for processing and livestock feed, Russia must receive at least 26 million annually to maintain the necessary level of security tons of potatoes.
Based on our estimates and calculations for the medium term, to meet the country's needs for potatoes, it is necessary to ensure: food consumption at the level of 14 million tons, for seeds - about 4 million tons, for fodder purposes - 5 million tons, for processing - 1 million tons ( Table 1).
One can also expect a real reduction in storage losses up to 1,5 million tons, which should largely contribute to the commissioning of new and reconstruction of existing potato storages with their modern systems for maintaining optimal storage conditions.
In the total volume of potato consumed, the projected share of imports should not exceed 1,5% (about 400 thousand tons). This is predominantly an early “young" potato, for which demand usually grows in April-May (during the off-season period, when last year's crop stocks are almost exhausted, and there is still at least two more months before the commercially available new potato is delivered to the trade). In recent years, countries such as Egypt, Israel, China, Azerbaijan, Pakistan and others have been actively filling in. Reducing the share of early potato imports is possible only on the basis of a real increase in its production in the southern regions of the country and creating for these purposes modern regional and interregional logistics systems, which is also relevant for increasing the volume of export of food and seed potatoes.
It is possible that the volume of exports of Russian potatoes abroad will increase - primarily within the countries of the Eurasian Economic Union. This should be promoted by measures to increase the number of isothermal wagons of the refrigerator fleet and reduce the cost of delivery by specialized vehicles during the off-season period.
According to the Federal State Statistics Service, the area under potatoes in farms of all categories in 2017 amounted to 2205 thousand ha, including 171 thousand ha in the category of agricultural organizations (agricultural enterprises), peasant (farmer) farms (peasant farms) and individual entrepreneurs (IP) - 129 thousand ha and in households - 1606 thousand ha (table 2).
However, based on the preliminary results of the 2016 agricultural census, we can talk about identifying significant discrepancies between the official statistics and actual data. Over a 10-year period, households experienced a sharp reduction in the area allocated for growing potatoes. So, in 2017, the total area under potatoes in private household plots amounted to 971,1 thousand ha. This information, of course, requires more detailed clarification, and in the future, the introduction of appropriate adjustments to the reports.
Gross harvest of potatoes in farms of all categories in 2017 according to official statistics, it amounted to 29,6 million tons, including 6,8 million tons in agricultural organizations and peasant farms. Our analysis showed that over a 10-year period, the share of households in potato production decreased from 89% to 76%, while the share of agricultural enterprises increased from 7 to 14%, peasant (farmer) households and individual entrepreneurs from 4 to 10,5 % (picture 1).
Apparently, in subsequent years we can expect a further reduction in the share of households in the total potato production to the level of 16-18 million tons (in 2016 it was 24,2 million tons, in 2017 - 22,8 million tons), and their influence on the market for marketable potatoes will be further reduced. A possible increase in gross production of marketable potatoes in agricultural enterprises, peasant farms and private enterprises to the level of 7-8 million tons can be achieved due to the increase in productivity and partly due to the expansion of areas to 305-310 thousand ha.
The predicted indicators of average potato productivity in the near future in agricultural enterprises using modern technologies can stabilize at 25-26 t / ha (in 2017 - 25,8 t / ha). In peasant farms, most likely the yield level will remain within 20-22 t / ha (in 2017 it was 20,6 t / ha), which is largely due to the more backward material and technical base of most farms compared to agricultural enterprises, as well as all even more difficult access for farmers to lease equipment, bank loans, subsidies for fertilizers, fuel and other resources.
It can be expected that in 2018. the total area under potatoes in farms of all categories will be close to last year's figures and will be at least 1,27 million hectares, including in agricultural enterprises and peasant farms at the level of 300 thousand ha and in households - 970 thousand ha. The fulfillment of these indicators is essential to prevent a possible decline in production, which could entail an increase in the share of imports in the overall balance of commodity potatoes.
In modern conditions, the further development of large-scale potato production is impossible without a well-established system for providing potato-growing agricultural organizations, peasant (farmer) farms and individual entrepreneurs with varietal high-quality seeds of elite classes and higher reproductions. In this regard, increasing production volumes and dramatically improving the quality of original and elite seed potatoes are among the key priorities for a stable and cost-effective potato industry.
According to the results of monitoring by FSBI Rosselkhoztsentr, the number of planted seed potatoes in farms of all categories in 2017 amounted to 3613 thousand tons (in 2016 - 3803,4 thousand tons), including 743 planted in agricultural organizations and peasant farms thousand tons, in households - 2870 thousand tons. The results of monitoring the quality of seed potatoes for compliance with the requirements of the standards (according to the Federal State Budget Institution Rosselkhoztsentr) are shown in table 3.
These data show that a high proportion of seed potatoes that do not meet the requirements of the standards are planted annually in agricultural organizations and peasant (farmer) enterprises.
Using the existing varietal potential of potatoes is also not yet effective enough. In 2017, in the State Register of Selection Achievements Allowed for Use, 428 potato varieties were presented, of which 221 varieties (52%) were created by domestic breeders. At the same time, the share of varieties of domestic originators in the total volume of seeds planted was only 17,3%. The leaders in seed potato volumes were such varieties as Gala (19,6%), Red Scarlett (13,8%), Nevsky (5,6%), Lady Claire (5,3%), Rosara (4,5%) , Luck (4,1%), Zekura (2,3%), Veneta (2%). Of the 10 leading varieties, eight belong to foreign originators and only two to Russian breeding.
Ten years ago, following a similar analysis, the top five leaders included four domestic varieties: Nevsky, Udacha, Lugovskoy, Elizaveta and only one foreign - Romano. A high share of foreign originators in the seed potato market has a steady upward trend, which poses a real threat of further displacement of Russian varieties from production.
To date, one of the main reasons for the low level of potato productivity in many regions is the high contamination of seed with infectious phytopathogens. This problem is typical for many agricultural enterprises, peasant farms, and especially for households, where long-term reproductions of potatoes are widely used for planting, which are largely affected by bacterial, fungal, and viral infections.
The biological characteristics of potato as a vegetatively propagated culture contribute to the rapid accumulation of infections during the reproduction of seed material. The situation is aggravated by the fact that many potato growers do not observe the spatial isolation of seed crops, crop rotation, and do not always carry out protective measures efficiently and in a timely manner.
The deterioration of the situation in the ratio of seed potatoes of Russian and foreign varieties is also largely due to the fact that the technological level of the domestic original seed production and the technical equipment of most of the originating institutions of Russian varieties are simply not comparable with the level of modern Western European selection and seed centers and companies. In this regard, the adoption of effective measures to modernize the material and technical base of breeding and seed production of potatoes and the creation of modern selection and seed centers becomes one of the most urgent tasks in the development of potato production in Russia.
At the same time, the implementation of investment projects aimed at the creation and (or) modernization of agricultural facilities within the framework of the Federal Scientific and Technical Program for the Development of Agriculture for 2017-2025 will be of great importance.
A dramatic improvement is also required by the situation in the field of scientific support for the potato industry. Particularly priority should be the widespread use of innovative technologies of selection and seed production, increasing the competitiveness of varieties of domestic selection and accelerating their promotion in production.
This, in turn, requires a significant increase in the scientific and methodological level and an increase in the volume of work performed on the basis of scientific institutions in the most important areas of fundamental and search applied research, including:
- creation of new promising varieties of potatoes with predetermined economically valuable traits based on traditional selection and modern methods of marker-oriented and genomic selection;
- the formation and expansion of the base of DNA markers, the search and development of new DNA markers necessary for the massive and effective use of marker-based selection;
- development of technologies for targeted editing of the potato genome in order to obtain genotypes with specified economically valuable traits for subsequent breeding;
- preservation, maintenance, development of genetic collections; the formation of working collections for the selection of new domestic varieties of various intended uses and the creation on this basis of collective use centers for breeders;
- development of diagnostic methods for phytopathogens and the creation of highly sensitive test systems based on PCR technology, enzyme-linked immunosorbent and immunochromatographic analyzes to identify viruses and bacteria that infect potatoes;
- application of modern biotechnological methods and meristem-tissue technologies for the production and clonal micropropagation of in vitro material; creation on this basis of a competitive fund of original seed potatoes of new promising varieties;
- development of effective technologies for cultivating, harvesting, storing and protecting potatoes from pathogens and abiotic stresses.
Significant potential for a real increase in potato production can be used in the category of peasant (farmer) households and individual entrepreneurs. To increase the efficiency of potato production in this sector, the development of inter-farm cooperation in the production and turnover of food and seed potatoes is especially important (for more details, see the journal Potato System No. 4, 2017).
In general, further development of potato growing and increasing its efficiency in farms of all categories will largely depend on how successfully the implementation of priority measures is ensured, including:
- an increase in the area of potato planting in the commodity sector (agricultural and peasant farms) to 305-310 thousand ha, which, when yielding a yield of 25-26 t / ha, will ensure stable gross harvest of marketable potatoes in these categories of farms at a level of at least 7-8 million tons;
- an increase in the average potato yield in the category of households to 17-18 t / ha, which, even with a continuing decrease in the area in this category of farms, will ensure a gross harvest of at least 17-18 million tons to close the real need, taking into account the established traditions of potato self-sufficiency parts of the country's population;
- increasing the efficiency of the use of varietal resources, primarily the best domestic breeding achievements and creating conditions for a more rapid increase in production and improving the quality of seed potatoes, as well as promoting and launching new promising varieties of domestic selection on the market;
- mastering and strict observance of modern technological schemes and scientifically based regulations for the production of original, elite and reproduction seed potatoes;
- increasing the marketability of potatoes through the use of high-quality domestic seed material, effective plant protection products and the introduction of innovative agricultural technologies;
- development of the potato processing industry and stimulation of the implementation of effective investment projects to create modern high-tech processing enterprises with the production of large volumes of various types of potato products (french fries, chips, dry mashed potatoes, etc.);
- development of the infrastructure of the market for potatoes and potato products, the creation of regional and interregional logistics centers for the sale of food and seed potatoes and potato products;
- increasing interest of banks in investing in the agricultural sector, including in the production and processing of potatoes.
The successful implementation of the above priority measures and key priority decisions in the near future will contribute to the development of the industry, ensuring stable gross production of potatoes, reducing import dependence, creating modern logistics systems for promoting potatoes and potato products of guaranteed domestic production quality on the market.