Stan­dards of New Life

These stan­dards are con­sis­tently in­tro­duced by one of the best agri­cul­tural com­pa­nies of Grodno Oblast – Progress Vertel­ishki

Economy of Belarus - - CONTENTS - Tamara MARK­INA

These stan­dards are con­sis­tently in­tro­duced by one of the best agri­cul­tural com­pa­nies of Grodno Oblast – Progress Vertel­ishki

How is Vertel­ishki Do­ing?

“Suc­cess is not only about tech­nol­ogy. Af­ter all, tech­nol­ogy is ac­tu­ated by peo­ple, there­fore, the num­ber one task of a man­ager is to take care of em­ploy­ees: to build af­ford­able hous­ing, so­cial in­fra­struc­ture, chil­dren’s fa­cil­i­ties, pro­vide ad­e­quate health­care and en­ter­tain­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties. Ev­ery­thing starts with an em­ployee,” the chief of the com­pany says.

This point of view was shared by the first heads of Progress Vertel­ishki, He­roes of So­cial­ist La­bor Fy­o­dor Senko and Alexan­der Dubko. Their vi­sion is ma­te­ri­al­ized by the present chair­man who took on the com­pany 17 years ago.

Over this time, the com­pany has con­structed 200 apart­ments. Tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion that each of them ac­com­mo­dates an av­er­age of four peo­ple, the hous­ing con­struc­tion project in Vertel­ishki cov­ered about 1,000 peo­ple.

“We stopped build­ing one and two-room apart­ments. I think it just does not make sense. Some ten years af­ter a fam­ily moves in, an apart­ment will get too small to ac­com­mo­date a big fam­ily and we will need to start build­ing a big­ger one. There­fore, we sug­gest that our em­ploy­ees (nat­u­rally with the com­pany’s help) should right away start build­ing spa­cious accommodation with at least three rooms.

Have you ever won­dered how multi-in­dus­try agri­cul­tural com­pa­nies are op­er­at­ing and grow­ing “tall and wide”? What is the se­cret be­hind their suc­cess and sta­bil­ity? Nat­u­rally, the suc­cess for­mula in­cludes fer­tile land, smart man­age­rial de­ci­sions, vi­able de­vel­op­ment strate­gies, the abil­ity to fore­see what will grow well and what will sell well. The suc­cess of the com­pany in many ways de­pends on com­pe­tence and man­age­rial skills of its chief… How­ever, chair­man of Progress Vertel­ishki, Hero of Be­larus, mem­ber of the Coun­cil of the Repub­lic of the Na­tional Assem­bly Vasily REVYAKO thinks dif­fer­ently, “In fact, ev­ery­thing de­pends on peo­ple. I am sure that the hu­man fac­tor has been and re­mains the se­cret be­hind the suc­cess of any com­pany, in­clud­ing an agri­cul­tural en­ter­prise”.

Each apart­ment has an in­di­vid­ual heat­ing sys­tem. There­fore, even in gloomy sum­mer days, to say noth­ing of win­ter and au­tumn, apart­ments will stay warm.

If you come to Vertel­ishki for the first time you will be sur­prised by clean and neat streets and trimmed lawns. You will not feel like in the coun­try­side where peo­ple can­not do with­out farm an­i­mals. How­ever, there are a lot of house­hold plots in Vertel­ishki, but they are lo­cated out­side the vil­lage. We have equipped a farm house with a feed­ing unit and a ware­house for those who want to keep farm an­i­mals. A good so­lu­tion, I think.

Streets are clean also be­cause the old pave­ment was re­placed by swanky paving slab a long time ago.

Pedes­trian ar­eas and lawns are adorned by small sculp­tures and com­po­si­tions made in the lo­cal me­tal and ce­ram­ics shop. They say beauty is the best teacher: even af­ter big cel­e­bra­tions you will not see a stub or an empty plas­tic bot­tle ly­ing around. Minsk street clean­ers wish city dwellers were such goodman­nered peo­ple...

Not so long ago the area around the lo­cal school changed for the bet­ter as well. An an­nex was built to the school build­ing, and the di­lap­i­dated build­ings were re­placed with a large and col­or­ful play­ground.

We also take care of the health of em­ploy­ees. A while ago the com­pany man­aged to per­suade the Health­care Min­istry and the Grodno Oblast Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee to de­cide in fa­vor of con­struc­tion of a mod­ern­day out­pa­tient depart­ment for 10 beds in Vertel­ishki. It will al­low lo­cal res­i­dents to get full med­i­cal care on the spot rather than seek it in the city,” the chief of the com­pany says.

To Or­ga­nize and… Stay Away

Progress Vertel­ishki em­ploys 987 peo­ple. These are both those who have been with the com­pany for many years, and new­com­ers. About 70% of the staff have univer­sity or vo­ca­tional col­lege de­grees.

These em­ploy­ees, their ex­pe­ri­ence, skills and knowl­edge are much ap­pre­ci­ated by the com­pany.

By the way, even the pro­duc­tion process is or­ga­nized in a spe­cial way here. For ex­am­ple, the com­pany man­age­ment quit­ted hold­ing daily staff meet­ings a long time ago. On Fri­day we work un­til 15:00. In win­ter we close at this time al­to­gether. Satur­days and Sun­days are days off at Progress Vertel­ishki. Even dur­ing the spring sow­ing and au­tumn har­vest­ing sea­sons we have the same work­ing hours: on the

week­end we em­ploy only the peo­ple the tech­nol­ogy re­quires.

The task of the chief ex­ec­u­tive is to en­sure smooth op­er­a­tion of di­vi­sions, ad­just tech­nol­ogy and pick up good man­agers in the field, said Vasily Revyako. Only then ev­ery in­di­vid­ual will fully re­al­ize per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity not only for his part of work but also for the over­all re­sults.

The per­for­mance of the com­pany in 2011 was im­pres­sive. The prof­its made up Br22 bil­lion, re­turn on sales of agri­cul­tural prod­ucts amounted to more than 27%.

Av­er­age yield of grain crops (crop pro­duc­tion is one of the main lines of busi­ness here) reached 84.9 cent­ners/ha. Yield of seed grain amounted to 100-120 cent­ners/ha. The wheat harvest made up 5,700 tonnes. Of it 1,500 tonnes was sold to the state as part of the gov­ern­ment pro­cure­ment con­tract, 1,500 was kept for seeds. The re­main­ing part of grain was pro­cessed into fod­der. The com­pany har­vested 14,400 tonnes of corn which is also used as a feed­stuff.

The com­pany has good farm­land, though it is not the best in the dis­trict. There are a lot of peat-bog soils. Arable land ac­counts for more than 53% of the farm­land. The com­pany em­ploys mod­ern equip­ment and ad­vanced tech­nolo­gies to make sure sow­ing and har­vest­ing are prompt and cost-ef­fec­tive.

The com­pany reg­u­larly buys new ma­chines and trac­tors. In 2011 a new trac­tor John Deere was bought. Be­laru­sian equip­ment, mostly Be­larus-1221 trac­tors and en­ergy ef­fi­cient trac­tors Be­larus3022, are also pop­u­lar with lo­cals. In 2011 we pur­chased a Pole­sie grain harvester, in 2010 a LEX­ION harvester. The size of fields al­lows us­ing 12 com­bine har­vesters with wide cut head­ers.

Great har­vests are at­trib­uted to the us­age of elite seeds, which are cul­ti­vated from orig­i­nal crops brought from Poland and Ger­many. This year the com­pany pur­chased 60 tonnes of seeds and reaped a good harvest. Some 1,200 tonnes of elite win­ter crops have been sold al­ready. The com­pany will also sell 700 tonnes of seed grain to the tune of over Br2 bil­lion.

The en­ter­prise ex­pects to raise about Br6 bil­lion from the sale of 3,000 tonnes of corn. By the way, Progress Vertel­ishki earned vir­tu­ally the same amount of money by sell­ing sugar beets.

The com­pany can also ben­e­fit from the sale of ap­ples that are kept in a mod­ern fruit stor­age fa­cil­ity. Progress Vertel­ishki will re­ceive Br6 bil­lion from this deal. Gar­dens of the agri­cul­tural co­op­er­a­tive grown from Pol­ish seedlings of dwarf ap­ple trees stretch for 80 hectares. This is one of the most prof­itable lines of busi­ness for the agri­cul­tural com­pany. Re­turns on sales were never lower than 110%. Tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion that Be­larus’ de­mand for ap­ples makes 100,000 tonnes and lo­cal gar­den­ers pro­duce only 50,000 tonnes, ap­ple grow­ing seems very promis­ing.

Dairy Prospects

How­ever, the largest busi­ness of Progress Vertel­ishki is dairy and

beef pro­duc­tion. The com­pany has 2,400 cows which pro­duce 16,000 tonnes of milk per year. In the fu­ture the en­ter­prise is plan­ning to have up to 4,000 cows and boost the pro­duc­tion of milk to 28,000 tonnes.

Dairy farms of Progress Vertel­ishki bog­gle the imag­i­na­tion, to say the least of it. The best ex­am­ple is the Ba­torovka dairy com­plex for 1,000 head of cat­tle. Some Br47 bil­lion was spent to build this fa­cil­ity. The farm is equipped with an au­to­mated cli­mate con­trol sys­tem which main­tains com­fort tem­per­a­tures in cow­sheds the whole year round. This, of course, helps in­crease milk yield.

In De­cem­ber 2009 the Ry­dely dairy com­plex opened af­ter re­con­struc­tion. Here cows are milked to mu­sic of Bach and Schu­bert.

The Borky farm spe­cial­izes in live­stock fat­ten­ing. Un­for­tu­nately, the farm does not have enough young an­i­mals, and thus has to buy calves all across the coun­try and even from in­di­vid­u­als.

Nat­u­rally, the com­pany’s prof­its from live­stock breed­ing are not yet very high. At the best of times the pur­chas­ing price for 1L of milk was equiv­a­lent to the price for 1L of fuel. To­day the price for 1L of fuel is Br6,000, while the price for 1L of pre­mium grade milk is about Br3,000. Re­turns on sales of beef, for which the prices are fixed too, make up 13%.

Prof­itable Ex­port

“Progress Vertel­ishki, how­ever, would not have ad­vanced that far if it had been un­able to find its ways. For in­stance, the com­pany op­er­ates its own dairy shop (10 tonnes daily) where milk is packed in poly bags. Keep­ing in mind the in­ter­est of in­vestors in small dairies us­ing lo­cal raw ma­te­ri­als, the farm plans to open a joint ven­ture of the kind. Milk is of ex­tra and supreme qual­ity grade and the ex­port of ready-made prod­ucts is much more prof­itable than the sales of raw ma­te­ri­als.

Progress Vertel­ishki is plan­ning to in­crease milk and pork pro­duc­tion, and is there­fore study­ing the po­ten­tial of Be­larus’ clos­est ex­port mar­ket – Rus­sia.

This mar­ket is very in­ter­est­ing and promis­ing. Rus­sia’s poul­try in­dus­try, for in­stance, has re­cently made good progress. Yet, its pork sec­tor, ac­cord­ing to ex­perts, still has long way to go,” Vasily Revyako said. “I am con­fi­dent that Be­laru­sian pork can sell well in Rus­sia, in par­tic­u­lar, in Moscow and St. Peters­burg where fresh-killed meat stores are get­ting in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar.

The com­pany also has big plans in what re­gards the ex­ports of poul­try. To­day, the farm pro­duces 2.1 mil­lion broiler chick­ens a year. Over the 11 months of 2011 the poul­try farm (con­sist­ing of 12 fa­cil­i­ties, ten of which have al­ready been up­graded) earned Br11 mil­lion due to its ad­vanced breed­ing tech­nolo­gies.

The farm’s fur busi­ness is quite lu­cra­tive too, es­pe­cially in terms of ex­ports. To­day Progress Vertel­ishki’s breeder stock is es­ti­mated at 12,000 minks. Ac­cord­ing to the pre­lim­i­nary data, re­turns on fur sales made up nearly $1.5 mil­lion in 2011. Ac­cord­ing to the fore­cast and prices on world mar­kets, they might hit $2.1 mil­lion this year.

At some point it seemed that the ex­port of fur would be in the red: mar­ket prices were knocked down by nu­mer­ous Chi­nese pro­duc­ers while fish (key prod­uct on the mink diet) be­came three times as ex­pen­sive. The de­mand, how­ever, sta­bi­lized, and Europe’s se­vere win­ters had no small share in it. Be­sides, the mink diet in Vertel­ishki in­cludes not only fish and pro­cessed fish prod­ucts im­ported from Poland and the Baltic states but also lo­cal pro­cessed broiler chicken prod­ucts.

Apart from all the above­men­tioned, the farm makes fur clothes. The lat­est items from lo­cal de­sign­ers were dis­played at one of Moscow ex­pos and were praised by out­stand­ing cou­turier Vy­ach­eslav Zaitsev. The Moscow fash­ion de­signer posed for a col­lec­tive picture, and now it dec­o­rates a lo­cal par­lor which makes coats from black and blue mink fur,” the chief of the com­pany says.

Be­ing a multi-faceted busi­ness in a ru­ral area is prof­itable from all points of view. Of course, you need to find out what you can do best and trans­late the op­por­tu­ni­ties into prof­its, like they do in Vertel­ishki.

One of the com­pany’s rev­enue items is high-yield win­ter elite seeds, which the com­pany uses for its own pur­poses and sells to other farms

In 2011 re­turns on mink fur sales reached al­most

$1.5 mil­lion

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