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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

Saturday, Aug. 23


Uppsala Park plays host to Fairy Noon today, a performance of five separate fairy tales ranging from folk classics to more haunting selections. There will be three different renditions of the tales throughout the day and tickets start at 500 rubles ($13.80) for adults and 300 rubles ($8.30) for children.


Classic Finnish cartoon characters the Moomins expect to receive a warm welcome from Russian fans during todays Moomin Festival at the Pearl Plaza Shopping Center at 51 Petergofskoye Shosse. Become a kid again or introduce a new generation to the beloved creation of Finnish writer Tove Jansson.



Sunday, Aug. 24


The tortured genius of Dutch master Vincent van Gogh gets his day in the centers Konnushnaya Ploschad during Make Art Like Van Gogh, a daylong celebration of the artist that will allow amateur artists to try and replicate the work that made the famed painter world-renowned.


Experience a variety of dances highlighting the diversity of the world around as at the final day of the Ethno-Dance International Dance Festival that has been at the St. Petersburg Humanitarian University of Trade Unions this past week. Tonights performance will feature Egyptian dancers accompanied by local orchestras.



Monday, Aug. 25


Today kicks off the Elena Obraztsovoy International Competition for Young Vocalists in the large hall of the Shostakovich Philharmonic. Talented youngsters will showcase their range over the next six days before a winner is chosen on Aug. 30.



Tuesday, Aug. 26


Love movies but hate all those words? Then check out Rodina Cinema Centers Factor of Consensus film forum this evening. Silent movie classics from the beginning of the 20th century will be screened and accompanied by a pianist, who will provide the soundtrack for the ongoing action. The screenings begin at 7 p.m. Check Rodinas website for more details.



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