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Staff Turnover, Shortages Main Issues Facing Horticulture Industry In Russia Featured

03 March 2016

According to Bruno Marme, director of operations of Agronom-sad, which is developing an apple orchard in the Lebedyani Lipetsk Oblast, staff shortages and staff turnover are major issues facing the horticulture industry in Russia.

"We would be able to produce not 40 tonnes per hectare but 60 tonnes per hectare if we can solve this problem," he said.

Marme gave his report during the roundtable discussion “Agricultural Industry: Franco-Russian Cooperation On the Conditions of Developing Russian Production”, which was organized on February 18 by the Franco-Russian Chamber of Commerce CCI France-Russie with the support of the Trade and Investment Embassy of France in Russia.

During his speech, Marme said that the Russian market has a number of advantages including natural resources: land, water and sunlight. However, to grow fruit, some amount of investment is needed.

“It’s not understood why Krasnodar still imports tomatoes from Isreal for example,” Marme said. “It’s nonsense!” Then Marme directed the discussion toward the prospect of the large Russian market and, perhaps, its second most notable advantage: “Leading up to the embargo, there was practically no issue of selling apples, but now it’s a bit different. We have no problem selling apples," he said adding that the true problem lies in another valuable Russian resource. "The most important Russian resource is people”.

The workforce is one of the main troubles for horticulturalists in Russia. Fifty-eight percent of Agronom-sad’s expenses are attributed workforce expenses. The difficulty in searching for personnel and the turnover rate are the most pressing problems for the company. About 5 – 10 percent of employees are interested in long-term work at the enterprise, whereas 90 percent are ready to leave at any moment. As a result, because of the constant turnover, staff are losing knowledge about the context and needs of the company's orchards between seasons. Additionally, Marme said, the overall skill level is not increasing and neither is the level of discipline among workers. In the end, the company is faced with low quality of work and high injury, the specialist said.

“Until we are able to locate people who are willing to devote have of their life to this orchard, we will constantly need to train, train and train employees,” Marme said.

In order to address the problem, Agronom-sad is taking steps to increase attention toward recruiting efforts, fighting nepotism among employees, and only hiring trained specialists with the right skills and a proven specialized diploma of full-time training, and refusing re-employment of resignations or retired persons.

The company is also trying to ensure comfortable working conditions, providing personnel with transport before and after shifts, providing comfortable and appealing uniforms, delicious food, offer a clear timetable with two full days off. Much attention is paid to quality and safe work equipment. A partial solution to the problem contributes to a long-term plan of work for each team and build a report system. However, the company cannot solve the entire problem because of its complexity, the selectionprocess and poor quality of staff.

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