In Soviet times, the Central Committee of the CPSU decided to eliminate the problem of providing workers with food by the workers themselves, and in 1960 a program was launched for the mass distribution of land plots of 600 square meters. It was believed that 6 acres could feed a family of 4 without leaving a surplus. It was necessary to remember this in the 90s, when the USSR collapsed. The current crisis is once again forcing Russians to look in the direction of vegetable gardens. Demand for seeds in March 2022 increased by 48% compared to March 2021. Potatoes and vegetables instead of lawn and flowers plan to plant 30.5% of the owners of suburban areas. 24.5% expect not only to feed their families with them, but also send part of them for sale.
In the regions, the authorities simplify the purchase of municipal or state land plots, sometimes they are distributed for gardening for 3-5 thousand rubles a year. Separately, the Cabinet encourages pensioners to cultivate land: they are provided with a subscription to electric trains and suburban buses either free of charge or at a discount of up to 70%, depending on the region. The automaker Avtotor, which is idle without the supply of imported components, in Kaliningrad distributes 10 acres to its employees free of charge for vegetable gardens.
But if you have not yet managed to turn your 6 acres into plantations, but are just getting ready, you should think carefully. Novye Izvestia talked to agricultural experts and found out how profitable it is to engage in gardening, and what problems you will have to face.
The main thing in the garden is to correctly determine your needs and choose the right crop. Daria Akimova , head of the analytics department at the NTech research company, believes that self-cultivation of vegetables from the "borscht" set has good prospects.
- It is always more profitable to grow on your own plot those crops that are the most expensive on the market. This spring, the price of the "borscht" set has risen sharply. Tomatoes in Russia are expensive year-round. But in central Russia without a greenhouse, it is difficult to grow tomatoes on your own. And even such tomatoes can be much inferior in taste to purchased ones: they can be firmer, less juicy, less sweet, smaller, their ripening period will be very long.
Farmer Nikita Tokmakov points out the main property that homemade products should have is the ability to be stored for a long time.
- If you live in the central part of Russia, then in the summer it is cheaper to buy what is grown in greenhouses than to grow it yourself. In industrial greenhouses, of course, the cost of production will be much lower than that of a summer resident. But when we talk about winter, the opposite is true. If there is an opportunity to freeze, to make stocks, then it is very cost-effective - in winter everything becomes more expensive at times.
The ideal option is a potato native to millions of people. It is both familiar, and borscht without it is not borscht, and it can be stored in suitable conditions at least until next summer. VTsIOM polls show that 41% of summer residents are going to plant potatoes this year. Cucumbers and tomatoes are in second place - 38% of respondents are attracted to them, 22% of land owners will plant carrots, and only 16% of gardeners are interested in lettuce and greens, which you can’t get enough of. But there is a nuance - the head of the Federation Council Committee on Agrarian and Food Policy Alexey Mayorov noted that "the situation with self-sufficiency in potato and sugar beet seeds is close to catastrophic." And with imported planting material, potatoes turn out just golden.
In theory, up to 700 kg of potatoes can be harvested from one hundred square meters of land. True, for this you need to be an expert agronomist. On average, in Russia, 100-150 kg of potatoes are obtained from one hundred square meters. But first he needs to be planted. If you take seed potatoes, then with bulk purchases from 1 ton (dacha residents are not interested in this), 1 kg costs about 40 rubles per 1 kg, in retail - about 130 rubles per 1 kg. About 37 kg of seed potatoes are required per hundred square meters. If you get a crop of 150 kg, then each kilogram will cost about 48 rubles. And yet you still need to feed. Experienced gardeners can talk about fertilizing with manure, bird droppings, ash and other folk remedies. But for beginners, it is easier to use complex top dressing. 10 kg of complex fertilizer (that's how much you need for one hundred square meters) in chain stores costs about 1,800 rubles. One top dressing increases the cost of a kilogram by another 12 rubles. You can make life difficult for yourself and grow seedlings yourself instead of buying seed potatoes. For one hundred square meters, you will need about 30 bags of seeds, 22 rubles each. It turns out much cheaper, but the complexity of the process is many times higher.
Nikita Tokmakov is also not enthusiastic about the prices for combined fertilizers - they are expensive, but of little use.
- Now marketing is very highly developed in terms of promoting various mineral supplements, and most summer residents, who do not have a specialized education, start buying it all, and accordingly, this greatly reduces the profitability of all their activities. Most of them buy something universal, expensive, when I see how much money they spend - really a lot. But this does not affect the yield, just in this way many private household plots (personal subsidiary plots) inflate the cost of their products.
Farmer and chairman of the public movement "Federal Village Council" Vasily Melnichenko is also sure that the benefits from his garden are ephemeral.
- If you read the word "garden" on the contrary, you get the word "expensive". For myself, growing it all is not so much an income as a hobby. Even in private farms, where 20-30 acres were once planted, today - 3-4 for themselves. Of course, vegetables are very expensive in stores, and it is clear that grown vegetables would seem to be cheaper. However, the lack of seeds - the lack of seeds of vegetables, potatoes and everything else - is the first thing that hits the personal subsidiary plot.
President of the Russian Grain Union Arkady Zlochevsky believes that the reason for the high cost of planting material in Russia is the rejection of hybridization approved back in the 90s:
- It is no coincidence that we are import-dependent on a whole list of seeds, this is a consequence of the decision that was made by our science in the 90s, when the issue of hybridization was discussed at all (one breeding method is hybridization), our breeders came to the conclusion that it is not worth doing it , and gave preference to variety renewal (that is, the replacement of varietal seeds with seeds of the same variety of higher varietal purity). The reason was that hybrids as such live an average of 5 years. And they are reborn. This is a permanent job that needs to be done.
You can be content with domestic varieties that are present on the market and do not disappear - says Daria Akimova. You can’t count on the miracles of the harvest with them:
- Today, the seeds of Russian selection, existing in the domestic market, are quite popular throughout the Russian Federation. But for many types of agricultural products, our selection is very old, 10–20 years on average, while foreign seeds are fresher: 5–7 years. The more often the seeds are bred, the more they meet the needs of the market.
All this results in low yields, Nikita Tokmakov adds:
- Domestic varieties of potatoes, tomatoes and other crops meet international standards, but besides standards, there are simply other objective factors. Standards are the minimum, and, of course, with regard to potatoes, Western samples have higher yields.
It takes a lot of resources to develop new native varieties. According to Daria Akimova , first of all, demand and time are needed. A lot of time:
- Many enterprises that are engaged in seed breeding say that until large agricultural holdings invest money in this, until they become interested in it, they cannot work to the proper degree of quality. They have at this stage the selection of one variety takes at least 10 years, this applies to most crops, but not all. So, for example, Omsk University bred for 10 years one variety of wheat called “Owl” of an unusual purple color.
Nikita Tokmakov is sure that the main thing is human capital.
- First of all, there is not enough personnel to restore the industry. Many experts say that since the times of the USSR we have lost the achievements that we had, their restoration takes time, and the people who were engaged in this, and in many respects the material with which they worked, are no longer there.
And Vasily Melnichenko believes that nothing will work without clear legislation - the Ministry of Agriculture itself puts spokes in the wheels of breeders and seed producers:
- Amendments to the law "On seed production" came into force this year. This law has become a barrier for seed producers - everything will now rest on the licensing system of the Ministry of Agriculture, and even with birch seeds, figuratively speaking, nothing can be done without permits. And this is a few months of approvals. The permit system for moving seeds is made so bad by this law that if you produced seeds in Moscow, then it will take you 1.5-2 months to draw up documents for their transportation to the Moscow region. In my opinion, this is stupidity. Everything is done in such a way that the official sits on the licensing system. Seed farms do not produce anything, but stupidly rent out land, this money goes past the treasury. Now we are obliged to pay a state duty for entering a new variety into the register of the Ministry of Agriculture. 1 million 200 thousand must be paid for all the certificates necessary for entering into the state register, for examination. It will be all pocket ministerial organizations that will be licensed for examination. This is bureaucratic nonsense.
But let's imagine that the site has excellent black soil, the most elite seedlings have been purchased, and you yourself are the guru of top dressing. Then there is a chance for a harvest that is even too large for one family. What then to do - to sell? It is not that simple. Food production is highly bureaucratized, the market is occupied by retail chains, and private traders cannot break through. All the delights of micro-entrepreneurship are described by Vasily Melnichenko:
- The legislation is so bad with regard to producers in personal subsidiary plots that if we want to grow something for sale, then we must definitely buy certified seeds, we must certify our garden. That is, the officials did everything to stop our activities, not to produce or sell anything. For this, there were all sorts of "Auchans", "Fives" and the like. So that we don't compete with them. I live in the Urals - we plant potatoes, cabbage of different varieties, onions, garlic, we planted tomatoes and cucumbers in the greenhouse. We plant for ourselves, children and grandchildren, but we are not going to sell. Previously, they sold a lot of zucchini and a lot of potatoes, 3-5 tons each. Now we will not do it, it is unprofitable. Do you remember how they drove us from the metro, they said that there would be some kind of markets, and there was a complete monopoly in the markets - if I grew something, it is not profitable for me to rent retail space on them. World practice is arranged differently - in the advanced countries, cooperation is powerfully developed, even in China, even in India. And in Russia there is no cooperative economy. The government is not going to do it, because why does it need wealthy people? They need the poor, preferably the sick and the deaf and dumb.
Remember the grandmothers selling buckets of potatoes or apples from their plot? So you know, they are malicious lawbreakers. Trade can only be carried out in designated places - in markets, for example. Goat owners who sell a liter of milk a day for neighborhood kids are also violators. And also, so that the tax authorities do not have claims, you need to have a certificate from the administration of the dacha cooperative, village council or other local authority with you that the products were grown on a plot of less than 50 acres, and the labor of hired workers was not used.
So your garden is not a cheap and very risky pleasure. Even if you are a farmer at heart and consider the garden as a business, then legally selling the surplus is not an easy task. Therefore, alas, but its 6 acres in the modern world of mass production is not at all a panacea. Your garden has turned into a hobby or a way to get products that you are 100% sure of. But if we just want to provide food for the family in the summer-autumn season, then finished products will come out cheaper than seedlings. Starched potatoes from Egypt and tasteless tomatoes of unknown origin - this is what those who have not bothered to look for additional sources of income will have to get used to.