The Greening of Agriculture and Food Quality



Scientific and technological progress in agriculture makes cardinal changes in the fully formed technologies. The aim of getting new knowledge and bringing the obtained results of investigation to practical use is the raise of efficiency, i.e. the reduction of social labor expense and other elements per production unit, growth of productivity of the earth and cattle, provision of production independency, creation of product funds for export, provision of favorable condition for labor and living condition, the raise of total span of life and active working age and so on. The article gives data characterizing ecological, organizational – economic and social aspects of the quality of agricultural raw materials and food products. The investigation results showed that the social responsibility in the sphere of agro industrial complex (AIC) and agriculture is one of the important directions of market economy and it has a great influence on the quality of food stuff. In article are shown the questions of improvement of quality of food raw materials and end products. Position with a food quality in many positions does not meet the requirements.


Table of Contents:

1. Introduction

2. Theory (a Review of Modern International Literature for the Last 5 Years)

3. Data and Methods

4. Methodology of Investigation

5. Results


1. Introduction

Quality as a combination of food, technological and other characteristics is of great importance. A human being with his addictions and tastes always preferred individual products. Animals and plants in the process of evolution adapted to one or another areal of their habitation. A human being using roots, leaves and plant seeds, meat of animals also adapted to one or another areal. Over generations he gained the skills of picking plants and hunting, he learnt to prepare food from picked plants and hunted animals. Naturally while getting new knowledge, improving means of hunting and processing raw materials the ration became more diverse.

Due to scientific and technological progress productive activity of a man increased, it became easier for him to provide his family with food, to keep house (Krasnoperova, et al., 2015) (Reymers, 2005) (Sotnikova, 2013) (Nagy, et al., 2017)).

Till certain time when anthropogenic activity didnt have any serious influence on nature, problems of ecology as a science didnt exist, there was no need in it. We dont consider separate cataclysms (such as floods, volcanic eruptions, etc).


2. Theory (a Review of Modern International Literature for the Last 5 Years)

Cardinal changes happened in the 20th century. Tractors and agricultural machines replaced draft animals. Productive power of agricultural labor increased greatly increased greatly. There began a rapid growth of industry, the cities and population in them grew significantly.

The influence on natural objects (soils, forests, water reservoirs) and even on the air pool is accompanied with several negative consequences.

Environmental problems gained paramount importance, became the subject of discussion of science and general public so there appeared anthropogenic situation when development of ecology as a science became vital need. Suffice it to say that according to the records of several ecologists the energy expenses on the production of the food unit increased 1000 times during the 20th century. At first look it seems incredible but if we think it over more attentively, we should agree with such an opinion. In fact, the raise of labor efficiency in agriculture due to the using machines increased 10 and even 100 times.

Achievements in genetics and animal and plant breeding provided it.

But in order to produce a tractor with a set of machines at first it is necessary to mine the iron ore, to smelt it into metal, to carry out metal processing and to make machines. The machines need power supply – petrol, diesel fuel, etc. All this requires great losses of energy, productivity of plants and animals increased many times, but the growth rates were much lower. Hence the problem of saving resources throughout the economy becomes clear.

Along with an increase in number of machines used in agricultural sector their great impact on natural objects is observed. Lets recollect that the K-700 tractor in one pass across the field compacts the soil structure to the depth of one metre. Go out into the field in the late autumn and stare at how the tractor furrowed the ground (Galatov, et al., 2013).

But this is only one side of the technological progress in agriculture which is called in literature as a grey revolution. There is also another direction in agricultural intensification connected with genetics and selection.

As a result of new developments in genetics there appeared a possibility on the gene level to control the formation of certain signs which previously were not characteristic of the plants. Genetically modified organisms (GMO) – tomatoes, corn, soya and others gain such signs as drought and frost resistance, immunity to several diseases. It was a progress. What impact the GMO have on plants, animals and men through using them in the food is unknown. There are sometimes the statements that the use of GMO in our food has no harmful effect on a human being. This statement is incorrect and inappropriate. The formation of a man as an object of nature lasted for millennia. To judge even by the results of short-term use of such products is at least disputable. By the way an export of genetically modified products from the USA and other countries is only increasing. Protecting from it several countries from the Western Europe stopped this less regulated flow by law.

In Russia there is a formal prohibition on usage of modified products. However, nobody denies the delivering of soya, corn and vegetables from the USA and Turkey.

Scientific-technological progress for the last centuries had such cardinal consequences in all aspects of human life that had not happened in previous millennia. In agriculture it relates to the introduction of complex mechanization and electrification, breeding new varieties of grain and fodder crops, breeding new species of more productive animals.

As a result, the productivity of living labour has multiplied. Changes concerned not only productive sphere but also all aspects of life (Krasnoperova, 2016, 2017) (Kulikov, 2016) (Zhang, et al., 2001)).

The way of living in the village changed completely. Tractors, agricultural machines, automobiles and other equipment replaced draft animals (horses, oxen, donkeys). The expenses of manual labour were dramatically reduced both in public and household. Now it seems like some kind of archaism when grass was mowed with a scythe, cereals were cut with a sickle. Hunger and malnutrition gradually disappeared from the lives of Russians, food products became more available.

Character of nutrition changed. Consumption of sugar, confectionary and canned products significantly increased, consumption of meat and dairy products per capita increased gradually too. Simultaneously there was a reduction of the volume and range of vegetables, potato and bakery products. For the last 30-40 years the import of food increased though even at the beginning of the last century Russia was one of the leading countries in the food market (Ivanova, et al., 2016) (Krasnoperova, 2016) (Acemoglu, et al., (2015) (Giorgi, et al., (2018)).

The increase of food consumption, the substitution of heavy physical labor with easier and mental one led to the obesity of the greater part of the population. So, such changes had not only positive but also a negative effect. The same situation is characteristic for many citizens of Europe and North America where agolden billion” lives.


3. Data and Methods

The objects of investigation are organizational-economic processes which characterize ecological and social aspects of quality of agricultural raw materials and food products. Economic-statistic, abstract-logical and other methods were used during the investigation.


4. Methodology of Investigation

In connection with the stated above the significance of good nutrition increases. The consumption of ecologically safe food products, the formation of culture of nutrition and environmental improvement are the main tendencies in sanitation of population, increase of life span and capacity for work. From our point of view nowadays the priority tasks are not as much as the growth of the volume of consumption per head but also the expanding of the range of food products mainly vegetables, berries and fruit, improvement of the quality of food products. As for  expanding of production and consumption of vegetables and fruit an enormous work has been done during the last years the results of which are appearing just now. In many regions’ greenhouses were commissioned to cover the demand for vegetables throughout the year. In Chelyabinsk region a greenhouse Churilovo” was put into operation which became a worthy competitor on the market. Garden companies play a great role in providing people with berries, fruit and vegetables.

In Chelyabinsk region there are about 370-390 thousand owners of allotments that means that about 1 million people (owners and their families) provide themselves with the garden production. In our region the share of rural population is 17 per cent, most of which grow one or another product by themselves. We consider that production safety is a state task. Rural citizens and town-dwellers-gardeners help to solve this problem and it means that the state should help them. It is a question of reasonable prices for country trips for the town-dwellers to their plots, ensuring regularity of traffic, etc. Its about giving them trading places for realization of fresh products in the cities, availability of seed prices, fertilizers and so on. One should admit that the problem is wide of the settlement especially in relation to local transport.

Now lets pay attention to the quality of food products on regional markets in our country. It is usually considered that the quality of food products is a combination of characteristics demanded by the consumer to these products. The most important characteristics are safety, composition of raw materials, freshness (sell-by date), organoleptic characteristics (color, smell, flavor, presence of other tastes) and food edibility.

During the pre-reform period in mass media there was an unfounded criticism of home-produced products. Quite often one stated of the low quality of home-produced products, of their non-competitiveness in comparison with imported ones. The presence of well-thought-out advertisement, colored package formed notification about high quality of imported products. Enormous shop-windows with goods, new forms of organization of trade (self-service, not selling the good behind the counter), trade-mark sellersclothes, polite service were at first identified with high quality characteristics of the products. There was a price dumping when a task was set up to drive the home commodity producers back. However, it turned out that it was not so easy.

Disappointment from premature expectations came quickly. Soon the consumer understood that under the bright package on the shop-window there is not the product he wanted to buy. Its enough to remember chicken legs from the USA (Bush legs). Which have won our market quickly and which could just as quickly be driven out of it. The lattedidnt happen only thanks to the USA government pressure. The same can be said about canned meat which had been kept in foreign refrigerators for 6-8 or ever more years, as strategic supply of provisions.

Agriculture was destroyed very much for the first decade of the economic reforms. A quarter of the century have passed but the consequences of it are felt even now. Willingly or unwittingly most of the agricultural enterprises were destroyed, whole industries disappeared. For example, in Chelyabinsk region the trade sheep-breeding stopped to functionate because its main product – wool was unclaimed. Cattle livestock decreased by 2 to 3 times, trade pig farms disappeared in many agricultural enterprises because of the violation of economic interests of producers of raw materials, difficulties with the sale of meat products. It was difficult to get on the counters of trade networks due to small production, due to the impossibility of its planned vision and so on. This was the reason of constant growth of food import (Nikitina, 2008) (Krasnoperova, et al., 2017) (Kubyshko, et al., 2016)).

Gradually the interest to the development of early maturing industries began to appear in Russia. Large holding companies focused on feed growing, egg, poultry and pork production, raw material processing and they supplied market with finished production. In addition, many of them began to develop brand trade where 25-40 per cent of product volume was realized. This determined success in the market of these powerful companies. For example, the cereal companyUvelskaya krupyanaya, macaroni Makfa, milling Sitno, Uralbroiler, Ravis” (poultry meat), Ariant” (pig products) gained fame in Chelyabinsk region and beyond. There is a tough competition in the region, every holding company tries to interest and retain the consumers.

However, in the price sector competition in weak. The fact is that largely these companies were created on credit funds which was time to return. It means that companies are not ready to reduce the price of the finished product. They still can complete in the product quality sector.

But here it is also not everything ordinary and simple.

At present the technologies of industrial poultry and pig-breeding dont differ much from foreign ones. The main feed is balanced combined feed, growth stimulators, vitamins, supplements are used (Bautin, 2016) (Nikitina, 2008) (Barcena-Martin, & Silber, (2017) (Frewen, et al., (2006) (Ogwang, (2016). Industrial technology of poultry and pig-breeding deprives poultry and animals of movement, they are kept in the conditions of regulated microclimate in artificially created conditions. All that, of course, influences on the quality of meat production and not for the better (Rosental, 2006) (Teixido-Figueras, et al., 2014).

It should be noted that in connection with Russias announcement of retaliatory economic sanctions, interest in the purchase of imported raw materials and products fell and it strengthened the competitive positions of the enterprises of agro-industrial complex.

We set out to conduct a comparative assessment of food quality through the eyes of buyers on the market in Troitsk (Chelyabinsk region), the results are presented in table 1.

Market research was conducted by us within the period of 2016-2017. Elderly and old age people who remembered the former pre-reform situation well-acted as respondents. As for middle-aged people (up to 40-45) and especially young people they couldnt evaluate the quality of products of 20 and more years ago. In general, the buyers shared information willingly. Perhaps in large markets of regional and industrial centres the situation wont coincide with our results, but these mismatches will have private character.

table 1


5. Results

The materials from the table allow to make several conclusions, the main of them are the following.

First, in general the quality of food products in comparison with the Soviet period improved little or not at all. Lets take bread as one of the main food products. Approximately one third of the population notes deterioration in taste, low preservation due to poor quality of raw materials. Bread dries quickly, grows stale and even molds. The reason lies in the use of poor-quality flour. The situation has reached the point that the mills owners are taking the initiative to recognize the flour from third-grade wheat as baking flour. But as a matter of fact, it is a feed grain. Different supplements (baking powder, flavor enhances) are widely used now. In this market there are many new players, as a rule, representatives of small business. They have outdated equipment, low qualifications of personnel. Competition is mostly not on the price level but at the expense of cheap raw materials.

An example of improvement is the situation with pasta and cereals. Many factories are equipped with up-to-date equipment and produce a wide range of products and of good quality. All this has been confirmed in the behavior of customers and their preference for domestic products.

They willingly purchase products of famous trends. In Chelyabinsk region they are OJSC Makfa – Chelyabinsk Pasta Factory, the Uvelsky grain Company, Magnitigorsk OJSC Sitno. Their production is well- known not only in the Russian Federation but also abroad (Kazakhstan).

In the vegetable market the situation is just the same – the quality of own-produced vegetables is noticeably improving, competition is increasing and there is a constant replacement of imported vegetables. In 2015 in Chelyabinsk region the largest greenhouse complex was put into operation, it almost completely covers the regions demand for green vegetables (bow, dill, salad etc.).

An ambiguous situation is observed with meat and its products.

Poultry farmers and pig producers have mastered new technologies, the main principles of which are keeping animals without motion and uniform feeding.

Lack of exercise when cattle and poultry are kept in cages form the special type of metabolism. Animals grow rapidly but their production is less valuable and accumulate fat and their muscular tissue contains much moisture. The main thing for manufacturers is to reach slaughter conditions as quickly as possible. To achieve this goal, they use not only complete feed but also growth stimulators which the meat producers try to hide from the consumers (Zharinov, et al., 2016) (Rosental, et al., 2016) (Hercher, et al., 2009) (Zhang, et al., 2009).

What is said above doesnt mean that this production must leave the market. It found its consumers among people with average and low per capita income. However, its no coincidence that products from farmsteads and farms are in demand on the market. In terms of food flavor their production is full value as animals and poultry move and are kept in natural conditions. It goes without saying that their production is more expensive, but it ought to be present on the market, it has its consumer; who is ready additionally to pay for the product; the price of which is 1,5-2 times higher, where the product is of the superior quality.

And from the social point of view the realization of surpluses of the grown production allows to support the incomes of rural people.

Many consumers are disposed to the import of beef and pork negatively as it is unknown where, when and at what circumstances this production was reared. The production was very often subjected to the deep-freeze, it was kept on the strategic stores of exporters. It is unreal for them to sell this production within the country because there is much fresh meat on the market. But our importers buy it willingly for dumping prices as if for the industrial processing (cans, sausage). It very often happened, but some part of the production gets to the market without any processing.

Everywhere consumers complain of the low quality of sausage products. Cheaper ingredients – soya, fat, tendons, skin and cartilages are used now for the manufacture of sausages. At present there is a concept of meat-containing product where meat content is from 5 percent and more.

Its clear that it is absolutely another product containing food colors, flavor enhances, collagen protein and etc. Why in other European countries there are no such products? What are the consequences of long use of such products? There is no answer.


6. Conclusions

Returning to what was said earlier such conclusions can be made:

The quality of products in several products in a number of industries of the Russian Federation is not improving.

We suggest returning to the standardization of food products because the health and welfare of our nation depend on it. If we want to complete on the world food market we should think of the reputation of our country, to produce competitive production of a good quality. We speak much about the competition of consumer goods and industrial goods. To reach a success in competitiveness of food products at the home and world market is not a simple task, but it can’t be postponed.

We consider it is time to put a question about the quality of the production on the poultry and farm complexes. It can be solved at the expense of the introduction of corresponding GOSTs on the complete feed and on the control for this process. At present a producer himself is responsible for the quality of complete feed and therefore he enriches them with all possible supplements and growth stimulators.


The Authors:


[1] South Ural State Agrarian University, Troitsk, the Russian Federation (RUSSIA).


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