The agricultural sector of the Yenisei regions wrapped up the COVID-19 pandemic year with serious losses in some areas and improvement in certain indicators, with the exception of Khakassia agribusinesses that were in steep decline.
Livestock and poultry is the basic indicator. Last year, it fell across the board in the Krasnoyarsk territory. The number of cattle decreased by 3.6%; pig stock fell 0.1%, reindeer stock 4 percent and poultry stock 2 %. The number of cattle decreased by 0.6% in Khakassia while its pig stock dropped by 2.5%. At the same time, the number of poultry increased by 0.2%. In Tuva, cattle stock grew 5.5%, pig stock 6.9%, and horse stock 4.1%.
A Federal Statistics Committee report showed bewildering figures. The Krasnoyarsk territory, with its declining cattle population, posted a significant 8.5 increase in the production of slaughter stock.
Regional agribusinesses accounted for the bulk of 140,500 tonnes of slaughter weight. In 2020, the production of milk and eggs in the region increased by 2.7% and 0.9% respectively.
The Statistics Committee noted an increase in the milk yield per cow. In Tuva, slaughter weight fell by 2.8% despite the growth in livestock and increase in sheep and goat meat production. Unlike the Krasnoyarsk territory, the Republic’s key suppliers of slaughter stock are farm households. They were apparently less resilient than bigger businesses. However, Tuva posted an increase in milk and egg production and milk yields.
Khakassia is the only area where figures seem to make sense. Due to the decreasing livestock in 2020, slaughter shrank by 3.5% and milk and egg production by 3% and 2.5%, respectively. Milk yield per cow decreased from 3,223 to 3,142 kilograms.
The Krasnoyarsk Territory Ministry of Agriculture explained the results by big investments in equipment. According to Agriculture Minister Leonid Shorokhov, positive dynamics was shown by businesses which had invested in improving livestock and fodder production.
“It was systemic work,” he said. “Here is the result: milk production at our enterprises reached 6,200 kilograms for the first time thanks to a breakthrough purchase of equipment. In total, 1,600 units were purchased for 3.6 billion rubles ($49.37 million) in 2020.”
Officials at the Tuva Ministry of Agriculture told wek.ru that the agro-industrial complex sets the lifestyle for 149,600 countryside inhabitants, or nearly half of the region's population. In recent years, the state support of the countryside has increased almost tenfold which explains the growth in livestock.
In Khakassia, the effectiveness of the program of state support of agriculture barely exceeds 80%, according to the regional Accounts Chamber. The Republic’s agricultural sector failed to meet the targets in meat and poultry production and overall gross production. Its major problems are difficult financial position of agribusinesses, huge debts, unprofitable sales, lack of demand, conversion of some dairy farms to meat production, and lack of export opportunities.
Meanwhile, the south of Siberia has a favorable climate. In Soviet times, Khakassia as part of the Krasnoyarsk region was considered its breadbasket. Back then, having industrial north and agricultural south was a logical idea. Therefore, the current failure of the Republic’s agricultural sector can only be explained by years of systemic miscalculations by the authorities.
“Most of the peasant farms have no access to loans due to their small capacity. Budget subsidies do not cover all expenses and needs. The number of peasant farms decreases every year. As of January 1, 2016, there were 838 registered farm households versus 686 as of January 1, 2021. That means that 30 farms stop their business every year,” said Pyotr Voronin, chairman of the Council of Elders of the Khakass people.
“Khakass lamb” is a project meant to at least slightly improve the image of the region. Local authorities plan to increase the livestock and improve its quality. Lamb is premium meat, which can be successfully exported. The small cattle slaughter ban for farm households comes into effect in Khakasia on July 1. The ban is introduced in compliance with the Technical Regulations of the Customs Union. Farmyard slaughter does not meet basic veterinary-sanitary and hygienic requirements and is likely to pose a threat to buyers’ health. These rules have applied for years in other regions. Khakassia was granted a delay because it did not have enough slaughterhouses of its own that meet all standards. At the present time, they number six which should be enough for the Republic.