According to estimates of the Eurasian EconomicCommission (EEC), for crop production, the Member States of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) have to annually purchase resources from third countries for more than 2 billion US dollars. Ways to reduce dependence on imports and increase local production, including organic products, were discussed at the round table “innovative technologies in crop production as a factor for increasing the productivity of agriculture of the EAEU Member States,” held on March 30. The event was organised by the EEC Agroindustrial Policy Department.
Opening the discussion, the Director of the EEC Agroindustrial Policy Department, Stanislav Buben, noted that for all the EAEU countries agriculture had traditionally been a strategic industry. The share of agriculture in GDP is very significant: in Armenia it is 17.3%, in Belarus - 6.7%, in Kazakhstan - 14%, in Kyrgyzstan - 7%, in Russia - approximately 3.9%. More than half in it is the share of crop production.
According to the EEC forecasts, in 2017-2018, production growth in agriculture in the EAEU as compared with 2016 will amount to 8%, exports - 19%, mutual trade - 15%. Imports will decline by 15%.
At the same time, a number of outstanding issues remain in the agroindustrial complex as a whole and in the crop production in particular. These are, first of all, slow pace of technical & technological modernisation and dependency on imported high-tech factors of production and resources: seeds, feed, plant protection products, equipment and agricultural machinery. Over the past five years, the average annual import volume of agricultural plant seeds into the EAEU countries in value terms amounted to more than 750 million US dollars. In 2016, pesticides were imported for the amount of 859 million US dollars.
“Issues of food security, import substitution became a strategic priority for the economy of the Member States. The basic elements of import substitution in the agroindustrial complex are development of seed production, chemicals use, local food production, technical and technological means, where the EAEU countries’ dependence on imports is critical,” Stanislav Buben noted. “We must find ways to develop mutually beneficial cooperation between business and science, opportunities for joint cooperation projects, including those with foreign capital participation. This will ramp up production on the basis of own innovative technologies and innovative solutions.”
Round table participants suggested to focus science efforts on development of highly efficient technologies involving Eurasian technological platforms. Thus, the use of innovative conservation technologies in crop production with the use of satellite navigation systems for managing machinery and technologies, mapping fields, precise fertiliser application contribute to significant reduction of production costs.
In selection sector, specialists noted the need to harmonise the legislation related to inclusion of varieties in national registries of selection achievements, mutual recognition of documents certifying varietal and crop quality, as well as safeguards for the rights of plant selection breeders for varieties of plants within the Union. It will accelerate the introduction into economic circulation of new high-yield varieties and high quality seeds.
In addition, the necessity of forming common selecting programs in the Union on sunflower, maize and sugar beet was noted in order to avoid duplication in research and gain access to information on developments in this area.
During the discussion of promising innovative agricultural technologies in fruit and berry crops production in a changing climate, the round table participants expressed readiness to form a cooperative project to implement precision farming systems using geographic information system. This will make it possible to rationally allocate fruit and berry plantations and thus increase productivity 2-3 times, and ensure production sustainability. One of the first steps in this direction will be planned signing of the memorandum on interaction between scientific organisations of the EAEU countries.
In order to develop potato processing plants and fodder productions, the prospect of creating potato and topinambour industrial agro & techoparks within the Union was noted.
The participants paid particular attention to the development of the organic agricultural sector and biologisation of traditional agriculture. According to experts, the EAEU countries may take up to 20% of the world market of organic products, whose capacity will exceed 200 billion US dollars US dollars. For this purpose it is necessary to develop cooperation between scientific organisations and producers of microbial plant protection products, biologised and integrated protection systems for major crops. Using the innovative plant protection products developed in the EAEU countries, particularly insect pheromones, nanoscale products, and new forms of fertilisers will ensure ecologisation of crop production and production increase of organic products highly demanded in the market.
Development within the Union of a harmonised state registration system of polyfunctional bioproducts, as well as microbial plant protection products will also contribute to the development of organic farming.
The event was attended by over 100 representatives of governmental bodies, industry agencies, associations, scientific and educational institutions, business community of the Union countries, as well as representatives of the Regional Office of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for Europe and Central Asia, the Association of European Businesses.
Eurasian technology platforms are a mechanism for cooperation of stakeholders in science and technology, innovation and industrial areas and are formed by creating conditions for cooperation among leading organisations of business, science, state and public organisations of the EAEU Member States.