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14 Oct, 2007 03:53

Farmer Andrey's milky way to success

A son of Russian immigrants to the U.S. has transformed a run-down collective farm into one of the country's most successful private dairies. Andrey Danilenko’s company produces about 80,000 tonnes of milk a year.

When Andrey came to Russia at the end of the 1980's, he never thought he would become a farmer.
Now he looks back at the restless 90's when the Russian economy was undergoing drastic changes and says it was that situation that created the biggest opportunities in business.
“My opportunities here, in Russia, are far better than in any country in the world. Russia is probably the last frontier left in the world where you can start from scratch and build such a large enterprise with very limited resources. I came to Russia with no money at all,” he says.

He started by developing bankrupt collective farms, or ‘kolkhozes’, as Russians say, and gradually bought them out.
Becoming a farmer in Russia wasn't an easy ride for Andrey. One of the major problems was to get a cheap loan. But that wasn't possible, because of the high risks involved.
Now that the government has become more supportive to farmers, it's easier to run the business.
“I think today there is more support for farmers here, in Russia, than there is in the U.S.,” Andrey says.
He has received a $US 40 million loan at 2% interest.
It comes as part of the national project launched in 2005, aimed at boosting agriculture, especially in the dairy industry. There's no country in the world that provides such cheap loans to dairy farmers.
Mr Danilenko says despite the efforts of the government, the competition is still very low in this field.
It's good for his business, but for Russia's agriculture as a whole it’s a major concern.