Following Vavilov’s example

Press-centre / News,

The studenam Vavilovets has arrived in Zashchitnoye. During the summer months, the students of agricultural universities from across the country are going to gain experience, acquire practical skills in plant breeding process, learn the basics of seed production and crop protection.

Launched three years ago, the project has proved to be an important part of the training program for the young specialists who may become future employees of the holding. Zashchitnoye is the best site for learning the ropes of plant breeding and seed production. The mentors generously share their expertise and skills with the interns.

‘We want young people to come to work for us as agronomists or seed growers after graduating the universities. Who knows, maybe one day one of them will become a plant breeder’, says Vitaliy Voloshchenko, the mastermind behind the project and Director of Plant Breeding and Variety Maintenance Centre of EkoNiva-Semena. ‘Our principal task is to grant them an opportunity to better understand and get the feel of the profession.’

Andrey Ulanov from Kursk oblast has dreamt of working in agriculture since he was a child. He enjoyed helping his mum with growing vegetables in the garden and cherished a dream of becoming a professional crop grower one day. Tomatoes were the boy’s particular favourite. One time, he grew a giant tomato weighing almost a kilo in his vegetable patch. He was very proud of his success and gladly treated the family to the delicious tomato. Currently, the young agronomist is more interested in winter wheat: the crop rotation of this cereal is the subject of his thesis paper.

‘Since my childhood, I’ve been dreaming of helping people’, says the intern. ‘But how? At first, I couldn’t make up my mind. Later, the dream solidified itself as a wish to feed people with delicious natural products made from the crops grown in the Russian fields. I want to be proud of working in the agricultural sector. Now, I know for sure, I will grow grain because grain makes bread and bread is the staff of life!’

Sisters Galya and Lida Trofimov from Altai area are experienced participants of the Vavilovets student team project. Last year, the ladies demonstrated excellent results and were awarded a trip to the All-Russian Institute of Plant Genetic Resources n.a. Vavilov (VIR) in Saint-Petersburg. This year, they arrived at Sibirskaya Niva with the goal of staying there as full-time employees.

‘We carry out variety trials of various crops: canola, ryegrass, clover, maize hybrids’, says Galya Trofimova. ‘We study the process of hybrid sowing and cultivation. Agronomy is my calling, although as a child, I dreamt of being a veterinarian and treating animals. Now, I am going to produce healthy and delicious feed for EkoNiva’s cows which is equally important as proper feed has a direct impact on health.’

The Trofimov sisters are inseparable: wherever they go – to classes, training sessions or work – they go together. The girls also have a common professional dream – to develop a new unique variety capable of producing a record crop in the challenging climatic conditions of Siberia. They are sure that they can acquire the necessary knowledge in EkoNiva. In the framework of the project, the trainees learn to take on all the challenges pertaining to farming.

‘The guys are showing genuine interest. And that’s what matters’, says Sergey Kulinkovich, Deputy Director of Plant Breeding and Variety Maintenance Centre. ‘I honestly believe that Nikolay Vavilov and his ideas are alive as long as his followers continue his work.’

The project has now expanded its coverage to new regions. In addition to Zashchitnoye, the young specialists are learning the tricks of successful agricultural production in Severnaya Niva and Sibirskaya Niva. This year, students from Chuvashia, Bashkiria, Perm area, Belgorod, Voronezh and Kursk oblasts have joined the Vavilovets team. They are all different but what unites them is common love for their native land and the desire to contribute to the development of agriculture.

By Tatyana IGNATENKO