The export potential of Russia can be expanded by increasing the involvement of small-scale farmers in forming large production tracts from small-scale farming operations. This was emphasized by the participants of the section at the Gaidar Forum entitled “Agro-Food Sphere: Will Russia Break into the World Market?”

In their discussion, the experts focused on the grain market. By the end of 2017, Russia harvested 140.5 million tons of grain, a historical record. According to the estimates of the Federal Customs Service of Russia, about 28 million tons of agricultural crops were exported, which is 35% more than the same period in the previous agricultural year. That being said, the export potential is about 50 million tons. Small-scale farming operations, which process a third of the country's sown areas but do not have access to global markets, can provide a jump in volume. Their integration into the supply network can open access to the formation of multimillion-dollar consignments for export. Large agro-holdings can teach small and mid-sized farms to apply export standards in their operations.

“Also, farmers need financing. In 2016, only about 5% of the total volume of concessional state lending went to small-scale farms. Another deterrent is that it is difficult for them to prepare the list of documents required by financial organizations. Because of this, farmers turn to neighboring holding companies for help,” said Alexander Dashchenko, Director of the AgroTerra Integrator Center for Agribusiness Development. “Last year, 71 farmers partnered with us. We helped them with financing, agricultural consultations, production storage, and provided other services.”

Ilshat Fazrakhmanov, Minister of Agriculture of the Republic of Bashkortostan, noted that in the Privolzhsky Federal District, support for small agro-enterprises is rendered at the state level: “People with initiative come to us; we give them money from the budget to develop a start-up, and they band together among themselves, thereby increasing profitability. And we set about helping with logistics, so that the goods make it to our cities. The key task of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic is to open our domestic market to small enterprises, and then to move on to Russian and foreign levels.”

Export undertakings can be carried out not only in the context of an association of participants in the agro-industrial market. A reduction in the cost of logistics is required. As noted by Arkady Zlochevsky, President of the Russian Grain Union, the competitiveness of Russian products is offset en route to the global market: “The cost of rates is one and a half times higher than in Rouen or the Gulf of Mexico. In addition, certification documents in Russia are several times costlier. And we have huge reserves here: if we manage to lower the cost of this procedure and free our deliveries from administrative and other barriers, we will retain our competitiveness and remain leaders.”

The expert participants in the discussion concluded that given solutions to financial, infrastructure and logistic problems, small-scale farms have great potential for both export development and ensuring the country's food security. The proposals put forth by participants will be recorded in the final review, which will be published following the results of the Gaidar Forum.