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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

Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meeting tonight at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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