The meeting was attended by Deputy Prime Ministers Viktoria Abramchenko and Dmitry Chernyshenko, Presidential Aide Andrei Fursenko, Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov, Minister of Agriculture Dmitry Patrushev, Minister of Finance Anton Siluanov, Minister of Science and Higher Education Valery Falkov, Head of the Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Supervision (Rosselkhoznadzor) Sergei Dankvert, the heads of the State Council commissions on agriculture, on communications, telecommunications and the digital economy, and on the economy and finance, the heads of regions, as well as representatives of academic institutions in the agricultural sector and the Rusagro group of companies.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, good afternoon.
Today we will discuss matters related to building up the scientific and technical potential of national agriculture, and its adaptation to systemic challenges, including climate change.
Before we begin, I would like to once again wish all the best on Agriculture and Processing Industry Workers' Day, which we marked yesterday, October 10, to everyone who works in this industry: researchers, agronomists, farmers, workers, machine operators, livestock specialists – everyone. Largely thanks to your dedicated work, my friends, we have seen a good harvest even in this year’s difficult weather conditions. It will meet Russia’s demand for all major food groups.
Those high performance indicators are certainly the result of systemic changes in national agriculture. It has become very up to date, relying on advanced technologies and innovations.
To achieve this, we have done a lot together. We have directed significant federal and regional resources to the development of agriculture, combining the capabilities of the state, businesses and our research organisations, which is fundamentally important. Five years ago, we decided to launch the Federal Scientific and Technical Programme for the Development of Agriculture to promote the use of the most recent Russian agritech projects in our national agriculture.
But advanced scientific knowledge and breakthroughs in agriculture or in any other sphere for that matter are, of course, not meaningful in and of themselves. It is critically important for these results to promote the well-being and good health of our people, the quality of life in rural communities, and the creation of new jobs. Of course, they should be geared towards our common national development goals that we must achieve in this decade.
In this regard, I believe the right thing to do would be to extend the scientific and technical programme to 2030 and to ensure the uninterrupted allocation of funds for the development of innovative technologies that must be immediately used in the agricultural sector.
When creating or implementing advanced solutions, it is imperative to be mindful of the need to adapt agriculture to climate change. We keep talking about it, and this is exactly what we should be doing, in fact. Of course, we must focus on the rational use of natural resources, environmental protection and carbon footprint reduction. I mentioned quite recently at a meeting on energy that this should be done in line with global trends, but, at the same time, we must be aware of what is happening in our country, what our competitive advantages are, and at what pace and in what manner we should be working in order to achieve our goals. This approach must be used in all areas of the economy, research and technology.
Concentrating financial and scientific resources and the production potential of agribusiness, as well as making clear plans for the implementation of the projects will help us effectively overcome the biggest challenges in ensuring food security and increasing the production of organic food.
Our producers are well positioned to saturate the domestic market and to take the leading positions internationally. In fact, this is already happening in a number of areas. The issue is not about food exports alone. We need to energetically promote our advanced agricultural technologies to global markets.
Notably, working under the scientific and technical programme, we have developed new varieties of the most important agricultural crops, come up with comprehensive technological solutions, and accomplished a lot in order to provide farmers with at least 75 percent of the domestic seeds within the next decade.
We must make this goal as specific as possible and enshrine in the Food Security Doctrine the level of seed self-sufficiency we must reach in 5, 7 and 10 years. It should be broken down by specific agricultural crops, primarily strategic, key crops that form the basis of our food market, which is, of course, wheat and other grains.
We need to rely on the same approach to ensure that Russia’s livestock breeding sector can find the pedigree stock it needs domestically. For example, it is thanks to the achievements by the Russian stock-breeders that a Russian heavy chicken breed was developed. This chicken is as good as, and could be even better, than similar foreign products. This is a major step in making Russia’s entire agro-industrial complex more independent and competitive.
An updated personnel training system is essential for delivering on these objectives. This can be said about any sector, and agriculture is not an exception. This work must keep pace with the deep-running technological transformation that is changing the agrarian sector around the world.
Agriculture is becoming a high-technology industry in the full sense of the word. Many processes have been largely automated, and the use of digital solutions, mathematical modelling, artificial intelligence and big data are growing. Interdisciplinary specialties like bioinformatics, biophysics and biochemistry continue to be developed. This means that in the agrarian sector new knowledge and solutions are born at the confluence of various sciences. As a matter of fact, similar processes are unfolding in all areas of knowledge, and agriculture is one of them.
Colleagues, it is along these lines that I would like to hear your proposals on upgrading education programmes for the agricultural sector, training researchers and faculty for agriculture universities, including by stepping up their collaboration with other education and research institutions, as well as companies working in the real economy.
This includes updating agriculture education to enable young people to acquire the most advanced knowledge and to master professions that will be competitive on the labour market, as well as contribute to research projects and other undertakings, build careers in agriculture, and use breakthrough technology. Let me reiterate that in the long run the effectiveness of our efforts hinges on how we train specialists for the agrarian sector.
I think everyone understands this, so let’s discuss these matters today.
Vladimir Putin: I want to thank everybody. We have extended this programme, as agreed, through 2030. It is necessary, as was mentioned earlier today and as is also specified in the documents that were drafted in advance, to consider some issues in the context of how the situation in agriculture is evolving around the world and in our country. We have to address as many issues as other countries do, probably more, because we have let some things go unheeded.
Of course, we need to take measures to provide more incentives that will encourage the use of what we have developed inside the country. It is quite obvious that this requires proper information support and funding, as well as amendments to relevant regulatory acts to make this extension of the programme through 2030 effective and focused on the main lines of development. We need to allocate the required funding. It is provided for in the programme, so this should never be overlooked when drafting a budget. This applies to a huge range of activities. We need to make a list of key crops and determine the level of self-sufficiency in Russian selection seeds in each case; and to make a list of the main agricultural breeds and evaluate the level of self-sufficiency in livestock breeding. We need to analyse and identify the necessary popular interdisciplinary areas of research of which I talked in my opening remarks.
The importance of all this is evident to all the participants in today’s meeting. Of course, a package of measures needs to be drawn up to facilitate cooperation between agricultural businesses of different sizes; in this case, I would not give preference to our large farms over smaller ones. Farmers should be consulted with on the different lines of their businesses to find out what they need. Regarding personnel training, it is important to listen to our leading research and educational institutions and introduce appropriate changes to supply the sector with top-notch specialists up to world standards.
Our agricultural sector has shown that to continue growing it requires attention like this from the government.
I want to wish every success to all those present today and ask that the required list of instructions be prepared.
Thank you very much. All the best to you.