The most pressing and debatable issues of potato growing were discussed by industry experts at the biology faculty of Moscow State University at the end of the first month of spring: on March 28 and 29, the IV Scientific and Practical Conference of the Potato Union “Genetic and Agrotechnological Resources for Improving the Quality of Food and Industrial Potatoes” was held here.
Import of seed potatoes from Europe: current situation
The general interest of all those gathered was a report by the head of the department of phytosanitary supervision, seed control and grain quality of the Rosselkhoznadzor Alexandra Isaev “On the situation with the import of seed potatoes from the EU countries to the territory of the Russian Federation”. Alexander Andreevich acquainted the members of the Potato Union with up-to-date information about which countries had submitted applications for seed testing (at the end of March this list included Poland, Germany, France, Finland, Holland, Czech Republic and Slovakia), the results of the examinations and the total amount of purchased seed material. And drew the attention of the audience to the fact that, according to customs statistics, seed potatoes were imported to Russia in 2014 even more than usual: 23 thousand tons (last year - 21 thousand).
Seed Law: Problems and Solutions
Lyudmila Smirnova, Head of the Seed Production Department of the Ministry of Agriculture, spoke about the difficulties of preparing a new edition of the Seed Production Law.
In particular, it was about inter-departmental contradictions in the course of resolving issues on the introduction of new plant varieties in the register (should the varieties undergo preliminary tests or will the register record the information provided by the applicant?); the allocation of free zones for growing seeds (and, in fact, about limiting private property and paying citizens “lost profits”); providing the most complete information about vegetables sold through retailers (should the basic information about the batch be contained only on the general container or on each package?).
Lyudmila Anatolyevna also touched upon the problem of the dominance of transnational seed companies in Russia and cited statistics, according to which, for example, more than 90% of beet seeds offered in our market are imported.
To summarize, the representative of the Ministry of Agriculture emphasized the situation with the training of qualified personnel: now 16 thousand agronomists graduate annually in the country, 46 thousand are trained in the USSR, as a result, specialized departments are closed in universities, teachers leave. Potentially, this can lead to a huge shortage of specialists in the industry, so measures must be taken now. Correct the situation can enterprises that need personnel and are ready to leave applications for the training of future employees at universities.
Russian-made elite: impossible or necessary?
Director of the All-Russian Scientific Research Institute named after A.G. Lorkha Evgeny Simakov highlighted in his report the topic of the need to establish the production of elite seed material by Russian agricultural enterprises. At the moment, this area of activity is practically not developed. To change the situation in seed production, the scientist considers it necessary to attract state support - covering at least 50% of the costs of seed production.
Industry in numbers
The Executive Director of the Potato Union Alexei Krasilnikov devoted his speech to the problem of false statistics on the gross harvest of potatoes (the results of harvests collected on personal subsidiary plots are calculated with a large degree of error, but these figures are taken as the basis by the authorities, which affects the entire industry). In the opinion of the Potato Union, it is possible to track the real state of things only by completely eliminating data on private household plots.
The Executive Director of the Potato Union also presented the results of the March monitoring of retail prices for table potatoes and noted a downward trend in the value of this product.
About the work of the Potato Union: RESULTS OF THE YEAR
The results of the work of the Potato Union in 2013 were summed up by the head of the Constitutional Court apparatus Tatyana Gubina. She reminded the meeting participants of the main events organized by the Union (and this is a significant list of meetings and seminars that contributed to the development and popularization of the industry) and outlined the development prospects of the organization.
The second day of the conference was completely devoted to the scientific reports of specialized specialists who presented many interesting achievements and practical developments in the field of diagnostics and control of plant diseases, potato cultivation technology, as well as in the field of selection, seed production and variety assessment. In general, the conference has traditionally become a productive platform for discussions, exchange of experience, search for promising answers to the challenges of our time, and has become an important event for all its participants.