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Damates Babayev Milks at 520 Cows Per Hour

Published: April 16, 2014 (Issue # 1806)



  • Babayev has thrived on importing best foreign practices to Russian farms.
    Photo: Courtesy of Damate

Naum Babayev remembers when canned meat was more sought after than money.

During thefinancial convulsion of1998, Babayev realized that food was agood thing tohave ina crisis. Themeat was real, while money was acruel joke.

Babayev is now atthe cutting edge ofRussian dairy farming. He extensively toured foreign farms toidentify andco-opt best practices, but despite having afacility that has achieved milking speeds of520 cows anhour, he has so far been unable toturn back thetide ofdairy imports intoRussia.

Babayevs first model was Fair Oaks Farms inIndiana. Boasting incredible cow comfort andharvesting thefreshest milk with thelatest technology, Fair Oaks left Babayev smitten.

He borrowed thelayout andconcept ofthe farm, toured another 40 tomake sure that no new innovation was passing him byand built abusiness ofhis own inRussia.

Quitting his cousins poultry andpork producer, Cherkizovo, after its London share flotation, he set up Rusmolco in2007.

In2012, he sold amajority stake toa major trader inagricultural commodities, Singapore-based Olam International.

Deploying another ofhis companies, milk producer andturkey farmer Damate, Babayev partnered with dairy giant Danone last year tobuild large farms inSiberia andBashkortostan that will ensure theFrench companys local supply.

TheDanone deal illustrates one ofthe paradoxes ofBabayevs career thecontinued underdevelopment ofdomestic dairy. Dairy imports tothe Russia-led Customs Union surged by18 percent inthe first 11 months oflast year, according tothe unions governing body, theEurasian Economic Commission.

Inpart, this is due toa lowering oftariff barriers after Russias accession tothe WTO in2012. Inpart, it is because production costs inRussia are still too high tocompete with producers overseas.

Babayev sat down with TheSt. Petersburg Times todiscuss thewhat he learned fromU.S. farms and thetale ofstrikingly high competition toenroll inIndian colleges.

Q: How did your trips toU.S. farms affect your own business?

A: Russian agriculture has learned alot fromWestern experience. I have had 15 years of observingfarming practices, beginning with poultry.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Nov. 27


The Customs and Transportation Committee for AmCham meets this morning at 9 a.m. in their office on Ulitsa Yakubovicha.


Tickets are still available for local KHL team SKA St. Petersburgs showdown with Siberian club Metallurg Novokuznetsk tonight at 7:30 p.m. in the Ice Palace outside the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. Tickets can be purchased on the teams website, at the arena box office or in their merchandise store on Nevsky Prospekt.


Celebrate one of Russian literatures most tragic figures during Blok Days, a two-day celebration of the 134th anniversary of the poets birthday. The tragic tenors work, which led to writer Maxim Gorky to hail him as Russias greatest living poet before his death in 1921, will be recited and meetings and discussions about his contributions to the Silver Age of literature in St. Petersburg will be discussed in the confines of his former residence.



Friday, Nov. 28


Join table game aficionados at the British Book Centers Board Game Evening. Held every Friday at 5 p.m., aficionados and amateurs alike can come take part in a variety of different games that test ones intellect and cunning.



Saturday, Nov. 29


Cats, dogs, birds, rodents and reptiles are just some of the things that will walk and crawl at Lenexpo convention center this weekend as part of Zooshow, a two-day exhibition featuring not only mans best friends but a four-legged fashion show, as well as a food fair that will help pet owners find out more about which kibbles are best for their hungry pets.



Sunday, Nov. 30


Remember the 75th anniversary of the beginning of the Russo-Finnish war in 1939 during todays reenactment titled Winter War: How it Was. More than 200 people will take part in recreating the opening salvoes of the battle for the north in Kamenka, a small village situated between Vyborg and St. Petersburg, using authentic equipment and vintage vehicles from the era. The faux battle begins at 2 p.m.



Monday, Dec. 1


Serbia filmmaker Emir Kusturica is the featured guest this evening at the Lensovet Palace of Culture the Petrograd Side. Fans of the director will get the chance to watch his movie Black Cat, White Cat, as well as ask questions about his award-winning filmography. Tickets for the event, which starts at 7 p.m., start at 2,000 rubles ($42.50).



Tuesday, Dec. 2


Today is the final day of Takoy Festival, a three-week program of plays based on the works of Dostoevsky, Remarque and other famed European writers, whose work is transcribed for theatrical performances. Tonights festival finale is Fathers and Sons, a two-act drama staged by the Novosibirsk Academic Drama Theater based on Turgenevs classic about familial relations.



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