RUSSIA – Russian dairying is a sector on the move and not averse to technology, according to a Nuffield scholar.
Growing consumer awareness and a desire to export more dairy produce are two factors shaping the development of the Russian sector, Western Australia farmer and 2006 Nuffield Scholar David Fulwood told TheDairySite.
The global tour took in European, US and African farm systems as part of a six week global focus programme through Nuffield Australia and organised by DeLaval Russia.
A further take home message, according to Mr Fulwood, was of the importance of government incentives to assist the creation of new dairy businesses.
“What we saw was evidence of the large domestic demand and a Russian desire to access the European Union market and elsewhere,” said Mr Fulwood.
“In Russia, a gap is appearing in the market as consumers are more aware of where food comes from and labelling and traceability becomes more important.”
He said it was good to see the latest technology being embraced on Russian farms but highlighted genetics as an area for improvement.
“The trend is to spend money on technology but not so much on genetics,” added Mr Fulwood. “Genetics are coming, however, and there is currently a massive demand.”
“Buying dairy cows into Russia comes with a cost but this means stockmen have to make use of what is available domestically.”
The tour, which included a meeting with former agriculture minister Victor Semenov, visited a Swiss-owned dairy enterprise that processed, packaged and sold the milk it produced.
Based in the Kaluga Oblast region, Schweizer-Milch has grown steadily after starting out as a small dairy, explained Mr Fulwood.
He added that the ownership model, which saw a milk processor invest in the farmer as a manager interested his Nuffield Colleagues.
By allowing the manager to pull money out regularly, he eventually managed to set up his own business. The transition will be complete after a five year payback period.
Through supplementary feeding on top of basic grazing, alfalfa/maize silage rations, the farm had become established, utilising two DeLaval robotic units to milk cows.
Speaking ahead of the tour, chief executive officer of Nuffield Farming Scholars David Geltch, said the team went with an open mind.
Mr Geltch told TheDairySite: “As well as the agricultural interest, the aim was for the scholars to experience various social and cultural aspects of the country.
“The tour formed part of a six country programme over six weeks to investigate agricultural marketing, trade and environmental issues.”
Other destinations on the itinerary included Frankfurt, Germany; Warsaw, Poland; the US; a week in Kenya and a week in South Africa.