In recent years, eco-products have become popular in many countries. Gradually it becomes famous in Russia. More and more people in our country are becoming aware that you need to eat not only tasty, but also with health benefits. However, the position of eco-products in our market continues to be fragile.
Russia still does not have a legal framework in the field of ecological agricultural products. There is no official concept of "organic product", nor its standards. The establishment of the relevant law was tightened a few years, but at the end of 2012, the Ministry of agriculture of the Russian Federation after the treatment of organic farmers modified the bill. Now the document is at the stage of approval. About the new law and its implications, about the prospects of the industry health in Russia, and also about the experience of creating and organizing the production of organic products, said Alexander Konovalov, the head of farm "Konovalovo Ecofarm" and founder of the Association "eco-cluster".
- Today, many people talk about environmentally friendly products and the need for a healthy diet. What is the current situation in the field of production of eco-products? How can the adoption of the law on organic agriculture and certification of environmental products change it?
— Over the past five years, the attitude to food has changed a lot. People have become more demanding about what they eat. The phrases "local product" and "seasonal" are becoming fashionable among the citizens. The protest of the masses of people pressed against and harmful foods, and also fresh vegetables is increasing regularly. Some shops and restaurants are increasingly choosing to buy farm, organic products. Ends with the time when the stores were blue chickens, a four-foot cucumbers, chunks of pale meat. The process of abandoning standard nitrate products has already begun.
Therefore, now the most important is the creation of a legislative and legal framework for eco-products. After the publication of an open letter of farmers to the Minister of agriculture of the Russian Federation, the development of a bill, technical regulations and a national standard for organic products began. The new law will give a clear legal framework and will save consumers from unscrupulous producers, as now organic can be called any product that does not meet environmental standards. The law is only the first step towards the development of organic agriculture. It launches the process of legalization of all stages of production of ecological agricultural products in Russia. In parallel with the draft law, the working group is developing a draft technical regulation on organic agricultural products and the national standard "eco", which will be the main documents for producers of these products. All of the above, together with funding under targeted Federal and municipal programs, as well as the launch of a unified quality control system should give impetus to the development of a new agricultural industry in Russia and its entry into the world market.
— What technologies and principles are used today for the production of ecological agricultural products?
Almost all ekofarma works according to the same principles. The most important thing is that the soil is treated for three years without the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, otherwise they can not be used. Soil health and fertility must be maintained through a variety of crop rotation and organic fertilizers only of microbiological, plant or animal origin.
Seeds must be adapted to local conditions, resistant to pests and weeds. And the main thing is not to be genetically modified. Many types of work must be done manually, so as not to harm the plants and soil.
Birds, not chemical means of protection, help to fight insects, but physical barriers can be applied: noise, ultrasound, light, traps or a special temperature regime.
Ekofarma animals live in natural conditions. They are in constant motion, so they produce natural immunity and do not need to be stimulated by antibiotics and growth hormones. In the summer they graze in the meadow and find their own food. In winter, the animals are fed with organic vegetables-pumpkin, beetroot, potatoes and Jerusalem artichoke. Therefore, their meat has a unique taste and all useful properties. The shortage of organic food is allowed to feeding animals conventional feed for pigs and chickens. However, feeding genetically modified ingredients is prohibited, as is the use of stimulants, growth enhancers and bone meal. Organic farms can only use tested and certified feed.
— How did the idea of creating an eco-farm and a complex for agrotourism arise? How soon did the money invested in the project pay off?
— We thought about the solution of the problem of environmentally safe food when the first granddaughter was born in our family. We realized that it's time to pay attention to their diet. When they began to look for organic products, it turned out that they can not be bought in Moscow. Then came the idea of organizing a family business to grow food for their own family, relatives and closest friends. After learning about this, many of our friends said that they would like to participate in the project. Very quickly, information about the eco-farm spread to the surrounding area. Today, our economy is on the rise.
In early 2009, the project was invested about 32 million rubles. Six months later, the company reached the level of break-even production. For five years the organic garden has already paid for invested 90 percent. The profitability of such a project depends on the ability to find a comprehensive approach to its development. You cannot work in the same segment, designed for one product. Many ecoferms produce and food, from dairy to vegetables and fruits, and provide a variety of services to their customers, such as hotel rooms, cafes. Due to the fact that ecofarm several sources of income, it can survive and develop rapidly.- The cost of environmental products is much higher than usual. How to organize its market?
- At the beginning of the farm, the sale of products can cause difficulties. Their organic garden each decides on his own. We, for example, began by selling goods to friends and acquaintances who began to tell other people about our economy. As a result, the number of customers increased several times, and we did not need any advertising.
Today the majority of ecological farms sell their products through online shopping. The most successful open retail stores of their own products. At the same time, some of these farms produce goods themselves, process them, pack them and deliver them to customers at the specified addresses.
Before starting to sell their products, any farmer needs to be certified, because it is the basis of the organization of the market for environmental products. It will help to prove once again to trade organizations the legal status of organic goods and that they are grown in accordance with the requirements of conventional and environmental safety. When choosing a certificate, the farmer must have all the documents necessary for the implementation of eco-products to the population, and the status of a legal entity. It is also necessary to obtain a veterinary certificate for the right to produce meat and dairy products and sell them through trade structures. You will also need a certificate of conformity for those products that you plan to produce. Western companies, which have strict requirements for the production of eco-products, actively offer their services for certification of products. However, the cost of services of these organizations is very high.
— How do you think eco-products network grocery retailing? How do these organic products will be able to get on the shelves of supermarkets?
— When selling environmental products, it is important that the buyer can get a quality and fresh product on time, because the organic product is perishable. Shelf life of dairy products, for example, is up to 5 days. Any trading network is interested in that on its shelves there was a product with a long shelf life and a minimum cost. Money for such products can be returned to the supplier a few months after their implementation. And if the goods deteriorate, even through the fault of a chain store, the manufacturer must pick it up without receiving monetary compensation. Often, retail chains require ecofarmers to pay an additional fee for the inclusion of products in their range, for advertising, product promotion and various promotions. Such conditions do not suit farmers. But without additional payments, the real organic products can get lost on the shelves of supermarkets, because the goods that have good advertising support are laid out in the most prominent place, and all the rest are placed on the periphery, where the buyer may not notice them. In this case, eco-farmers face only losses from cooperation with chain stores. Under these conditions, only agro-industrial groups with large cash flows and the ability to receive Bank loans in a timely manner can successfully cooperate with supermarkets. In this matter, the state should come to the aid of eco-farmers. It can make it possible for retail chains to allocate special shelves for eco-products on reasonable and feasible conditions for farmers. After all, the profit from the sale of eco-products is much higher than the income from the sale of conventional products. Retail chains should be themselves interested in the fact that when selling natural products, the main emphasis is on the sale of environmentally friendly products.
— How to attract Russian farmers to grow organic products?
In my opinion, if the government will support farmers working in organic agriculture, and through media buyers will be to explain why the environmentally friendly product is better than usual, and for some reason, it costs the manufacturer more, before ecofarmer opens good prospects, including with sales. Then many Russian farmers will want to switch to the system of organic agriculture.
Recently, I was invited to a hearing in the Public chamber of the Russian Federation. Many speakers — scientists and representatives of various public organizations — spoke about the need to support small businesses, including eco-farms. Without this support, it is extremely difficult for farmers to achieve the adoption of legislation that can facilitate the production of environmentally friendly products in our country.
The attractiveness of the industry is affected by the ability to quickly execute the necessary documents, and the procedure for certification. Today, in some regions of the country you can get a subsidy for its implementation. Our colleagues from the Leningrad region, for example, are compensated from the local budget up to 80 percent of such costs. In some banks there are special programs for acquisition of agricultural equipment ecofarmer on preferential terms, and the Ministry of agriculture of the country holds various events through Agrolizing. However, all this requires additional registration and a large number of documents. If the procedure for obtaining agricultural machinery and certification will simplify, as well as develop additional ways to support eco-farming in Russia, many farmers in our country will join this industry.
— What are the prospects for the development of the sphere of production of eco-products in Russia? In your opinion, will environmental products become as widespread in Russia as in Europe or America?
- The industry of organic products in our country has a great future. Such products have long been popular in Western Europe, where eco-farmers work together to develop policies, build a system of logistics, supply, packaging, pricing, access to retail chains. Solve the key issue for any manufacturer sales. Western ecofarmer the pioneers in this field. We're way behind them. The main thing you can learn from our European partners — a strong commitment to high quality products. It is this aspect in their activities should pay attention to the farmer who has entered the path of organic farming. Sooner or later ekofarma will become popular in Russia. Then they will have an opportunity to enter regional markets, including foreign ones. With the increase in production capacity, eco-farmers will be able to apply for participation in state orders for the supply of products to kindergartens and schools. However, for the development of organic agriculture in Russia is necessary to solve a number of problems: the adoption of the law on the status of kofermenta, develop ways to support the industry the government through grants or subsidies, to simplify the certification system and others. If at least some of these tasks are solved, everyone will benefit from it: producers, buyers, and the state itself.
Alexander Konovalov, the head of farm "Konovalovo Ecofarm" and founder of the Association "eco-cluster»:
— If the government will support farmers working in organic agriculture, and through media buyers will be to explain why the environmentally friendly product is better than usual, and for some reason, it costs the manufacturer more, before ecofarmer opens good prospects, including with sales. Then many Russian farmers will want to switch to the system of organic agriculture.