Krasnodar, 1 October. Our today’s interviewee is Ralf Bendisch, CLAAS Krasnodar General Director.
Q.: When does a Kuban farmer start thinking about buying new agricultural machines: when he understands that this may help improve his productivity, or when his old machines stop working?
A.: Regretfully, many farmers prefer to wait until the last moment, which does not bring them any good. When a machine is brought to ‘physical death’, the last degree of wear, it means that over the past years it has been used inefficiently, and has not been bringing big benefits.
Q.: Is the demand for agricultural machines growing?
A.: According to Ministry of Agriculture, the Russian machinery fleet consists of about 120,000 combine harvesters. Considering that the average lifespan of a harvester is ten years, it becomes clear that every year 12,000 new combine harvesters should be put into operation nationally. However, the statistics says that only 5,000 to 6,000 harvesters are sold in the country every year.
Q.: Many multibillion-rouble worth investment projects are said to have been frozen due to the lack of electricity. Have you faced such problem? Does it affect the investors’ interest in the Kuban region?
A.: Absolutely. We have encountered such difficulties – not only shortage of electric power, but also failures in natural gas supply and problems with sewage systems. During the second phase construction of our factory, we were charged with gigantic sums for resources. It was hard to understand what was happening. If the current tariffs cannot cover the investment activity and the expansion of the networks, of course, it is not correct and must be taken into account. But it is not gentlemanly to pass the construction of communications on to the investor’s shoulders – this fact repels and discourages the investors rather than attracting them. It means that 25% of the cost of an investment project must be spent to get connected to different power grids and networks. I think that many investors wound down their projects as soon as they faced the problem of getting connected to the service lines. This is why it is strategically important for the Kuban region to develop the electric grids. Gone are the days when investors could be attracted at the cost of kindly climate only.
Q.: How would you assess the impact of the pandemic upon the German and Russian economies?
A.: The GDP levels are to fall down both in Germany and in Russia. A big amount of bankruptcies is expected, first of all in the sphere of small and midsize businesses and private entrepreneurs. The main governmental support measures both in Germany and here were aimed at small and medium businesses as the most vulnerable categories. As a rule, after the closure they would have no other way-out than to become salaried employees. And it would be their personal misfortune.
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