Cooperation between Norway and Russia in arctic farming could be useful for both sides. So say Nedzad Zdralovich, the adviser of the Governor of Finnmark and Birger Bull, a young farmer from the small commune Karlsøy in Troms county located on 69 degree northern latitude.
Nedzad and Birger were the guests of the Forum of young entrepreneurs held in Arkhangelsk last weekend.
Arctic farm: business and a lifestyle This is not easy to run dairy farming in harsh Arctic conditions. Even more hard is to start up from zero point having no experience, investments and own capital. Birger proved that it is possible to succeed.
From inside the dairy barns in Karlsøy. (Photo: Nedzad Zdralovich)
Several years ago Birger and his family made a brave decision to start own dairy farm. They had nothing except a strong wish to become a master of their destiny even if it could not bring them high wealth. They wanted to stay in the commune they were born and their children to grew up in a clean spacy and friendly environment. And they did it.
Today they own a beautiful farm of unusual design combining a big room for 140 cows and spacy apartments for the family. The unique design of the farm has been made by Nedzad Zdralovicha who is a professional engineer and an adviser on agricultural issues of the Governor of Finnmark. Birger was very limited in funding so he asked Nedzad to make it the most economical.
Why so cheap? “Our world is very small,” says Zdralovich. “If you have a wish to get a good product at the best price you will always get it. Of course if you have an access to a big market,” he adds.
The concrete basement of the farm was designed by the Russian engineers from Arkhangelsk. The steel for the roof came from Sweden, the bulks – from Bosnia. All inside equipment was imported from different countries of Europe.
“If we bought everything in Norway our farm would be several times more expensive,” assumes Birger Bull.
According to Nedzad the final cost of the farm with all equipment made approximately 37 million rubles and this is the sum the entrepreneurs in Arkhangelsk could not believe when he said it. The similar farm solemnly opened in one of the districts of Arkhangelsk obast estimated 1,5 times more.
“You can build even cheaper in Russia,” says Nedzad.
“There is a lot of timber in the Russian North so the materials will cost much less. The local labor is still relatively unexpensive So our farm can be even more efficient here because you have vast pastures and very good fodder staff than we in Finnmark or Troms. So I do not understand why we in the North of Norway get in average 1,5 times more milk from one cow than you do in better conditions.”
Barents cooperation as an advantage Nedzad Zdralovich and Birger Bull were invited to the young entrepreneurs’ conference by the Arkhangelsk regional ministry of youth to share their competence and experience with young businessmen and with those who wish to start new business. The Ministry is ready to assist in implementation of this experience in the region hoping that it can inspire the young people in the rural areas to start their own farming business and thus will help to slow down the tendency of outflow of youngsters from the villages to big cities.
This dairy farm is built in Karlsøy in Troms, northern Norway. (Photo: Nedzad Zdralovich)
Nedzad and Birger call their farm “The Barents Farm” stressing that Barents cooperation opens excellent perspectives for sharing the experiences and expertise across the border. The Norwegian Barents Secretariat helped the journalists from Arkhangelsk to make a film about Norwegian arctic farming which is now widely used on the meetings and conferences related to further development of the project.
Nedzad Zdralovich has already good contacts both with business community and the state authorities and public organizations of Arkhangelsk region. His project has already attracted an interest from the powerful business association “Delovaya Rossija” (“Business Russia”) branch in Arkhangelsk. The association wants to assist in raising the investments and administrative support to the project. A month ago “Delovaya Rossija” invited Nedzad Zdralovich to visit one of the remote areas of Arkhangelsk oblast where he met one of the local farmers interested in construction of the “Barents farm” on his land. The main point today is to adopt the Norwegian farm design to local conditions and to find the investments for construction the first farm in Arkhangelsk oblast. But this is already a challenge to meet by the Russian partners of Nedzad and Birger.