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8 Jun, 2010 06:44

New farming project to revive Russian agriculture

A farmhouse lifestyle - in return for your labour- and your animals watched over by web-cams. It's the reality on offer in the New Russian Village - a multi-million dollar private project.

The sun rises on a new agricultural dream. Not a collective farm – but a hybrid of farmer and managing company. New homes, state-of-the-art farms, competitive pay – a very different picture from the usual Russian countryside. A $170 million project to revive village life. It gives young farmers the chance to earn a thousand dollars a month – and to own a house and farm within a decade.

Pig farmer, Aleksandr, considers himself lucky to be part of the project.

“Not many believe it’s for real, however there is a huge competition to get a place here – about 100 people for one vacancy. I was lucky to get chosen.”

A Former welder, Aleksandr is already producing better results than the world’s top hogbreeders. Former crane operator, Luba, turned her hand to goats.

“Now the managing company thinks for us – provides us with animals and fodder. In 10 years it will be harder – we will be working by ourselves, but we will be earning much more.”

The village is packed with webcams so each farmer can find out any time – what’s going on at his farm. It’s all the brain child of a manager and a co-investor in the project – Yury Shevchenko. According to his plan – all livestock will be processed on-site, butchered and packed – and then sold directly from their own fleet of refrigerated trucks

“The whole production cycle from field to consumer is within our control. There are no middle men such as retailers. The village produces and sells its products itself – so all the value added stays in the village. 70% goes to the farmer and 30% to the managing company.”

Yury believes – the world may soon be fighting for food. This way, he says Russia with its vast land resources within 15 years should be able to feed itself and to export. Foreign investors could also help finance and manage such villages on Russian soil.

“In the West the agricultural market is saturated. Here in Russian agriculture you can still increase productivity 10 times! The pay-back of such an agricultural cluster is about 7 years – profitability is no less than 20%.”

For now, just a few farmhouses stand here – but the village is expected to be fully operational in a year or two. Only then will it be possible to say whether this project represents sunrise or sunset for the Russian village.