Over the past decades, soybean production remains the main direction of agriculture in the Amur Region, the efficiency of which affects the financial and economic situation of the agribusiness of the region. Since only soybean, determining the direction for development of all the spheres of the agribusiness of the region as a whole, is grown from all the crops of the oil-and-fat subcomplex in the Amur Region; in this case, we consider it expedient to use the wording "soy subcomplex" instead of "oil-and-fat subcomplex". The system-forming role of the soy subcomplex for the Amur Region requires the most responsible approach to the elaboration of its development strategy, based on a deep analysis of the situation and the identification of existing development trends, barriers and potential opportunities in the conditions of challenges and threats to the external environment.
Agriculture in the Amur Region is developing quite dynamically. In 2017, the volume of produced agricultural products amounted to 62225.2 million rubles, 77% of which accounts for the products of plant growing (Table 5). The leading position of the plant-growing sub-sector in the agribusiness of the Amur Region is determined by the production of soybean, as the main crop of the region. So, in 2017, the share of this crop amounted to more than 50% of the value of all the products of the plant-grown and more than 40% of the total agricultural production (Operational Data of the Ministry of Agriculture 2013-2017). According to the estimates of the authors, in 2017, soybeans were produced for a total amount of over 26 billion rubles.
Over the past 5 years, the size of sown areas under soybean in the Amur Region has grown by more than 40%, from 649.7 thousand hectares in 2013 to 964.7 thousand hectares in 2017 (Operational Data of the Ministry of Agriculture, 2013-2017). The growth of sown areas under soybean in the region is not only caused by plowing of fallow land, but also by the reduction in cultivation of other crops that entails a disorder of crop rotations that leads to an increase in weed infestation of crops, diseases damage of soybean, and, as a result, there is a reduction in the crop yield and profitability of its production (Figure 2) (Sinegovskiy, 2015).
Export is one of the main directions of soybean realization in the Amur Region. China is the largest consumer of the Amur soybean. From 2013 to 2017, the export of the Amur soybean grew 6.7 times in physical terms and 9.2 times in value terms (Table 6) (Customs Statistics of Foreign Trade). The share of soybean in the total volume of exports from the Amur Region has also increased, and if in 2013-2014 it did not exceed 5%, then in 2017 it amounted to 24.8%.
The growing interest in the Russian soybean on the part of China is the main reason for the increase in volume of export. This is due to the advantage of the geographical position of the Amur Region as the main region of the country engaged in soybean cultivation in relation to China with a cheaper ruble, as well as a high gross yield of this crop in the Far East.
The second direction of soybean realization in the region is processing for soy oil, flour, oil-seed meal and other purposes. At present, in the territory of only the Amur Region, there are three oil-extraction plants, which are able to process in total about 500,000 tonnes of soybeans a year, including a plant for deep soybean processing "Amurskiy", which was put into operation in 2017. Totally, the Amur Region is capable of processing 600,000 tonnes of soybean grain.
Main problems of the soy subcomplex of the Amur Region
The functioning of the soy subcomplex is influenced by a range of problems that hampers its development. The main barrier is the absence of the integrated strategic program for the development of soybean cultivation because such program must take into account all the main problems that challenge producers and processers of soybean, and also include a complex of measures aimed at their solution (Malashonok and Pashina, 2016; Manzhosova et al., 2017).
A serious obstacle narrowing down the possibilities of the soy subcomplex organizations is a weak development of the service infrastructure: logistical system for transportation of soybean and soy products; warehouse infrastructure; underdevelopment of the system for providing quality seed material, fertilizers, plant protection products, technical equipment; focus of the market on large producers; difficulty in assessing the farms to credit funds, etc.
High tariffs for rail transportation make it difficult to sell soy primary products produced in the Far East in the amount that exceeds the production capacities of the region. For the processing companies in the western part
of Russia and other consumers of soya beans, it is easier and cheaper to purchase soybean from foreign suppliers (Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, and Venezuela), which is mostly genetically modified and does not ensure the ecological safety of its processing. The permission for the Russian producers to purchase genetically modified soybean for processing, but under conditions of prohibition of its cultivation in Russia is quite contradictory in this situation.
A competitor for the Western producers is cheap soybean from the North and South American countries. Favorable climatic conditions, developed logistical infrastructure, and also a permission to grow genetically modified soybean allow these countries to obtain high yields at low cost. Even with such a great competitive advantage as the border with China the main importer of soybean grain, the Russian Federation is much inferior in the level of logistics. This is evidenced by the lack of grain terminals in the Far Eastern ports and the discrepancy of the Russian standards of railway gauge to the international level.
The high level of wear and slow rates of renovation of agricultural machines and equipment used in the economy of the region hinder the technical and technological development. The growth of costs for repair and maintenance of the operable condition of out-of-date equipment leads to an increase in the cost-price of the resulting products and, as a consequence, a decrease in incomes of the agricultural producers.
The problem of disorder of crop rotations and the predominance of soybean in crops is also essential. Many agricultural producers cultivate soybean on soybean annually that will certainly have a detrimental effect on the fertility of the soils and the yield of soybean, which lead to an increase in the contamination of the crops and deterioration of the phytosanitary situation in the near future.
In recent years, the number of agricultural specialists has sharply decreased and the professional characteristics of managers and specialists in the level of education, age, and management experience have worsened. One of the main reasons for the shortage of specialists is the lag in the wages of rural workers from the urban ones’. So, in 2017, the average wage of agricultural workers amounted to 28044.7 rubles, which is 23% lower than the average wage of the urban population – 36534.4 rubles. The second reason why the graduates of agricultural specialties are much more willing to work in other areas is the lack of prestige of working in rural areas. This problem is aggravated by the weak development of the social and household infrastructure of the countryside. The number of institutions rendering services in the healthcare, education, culture decreases annually. The issue of engineering development of rural areas is especially acute.
The development of the soybean industry is also hampered by the unfavorable external environment, in particular, caused by the monopoly of the iII sphere of the agribusiness, which led to an increase in the price disparity for agricultural products, industrial means of production, reinforced by imperfection of price and tax policies, and inaccessibility to concessional lending.
Strategic planning in the agribusiness of the Amur Region
The absence in the majority of regions of the Russian Federation of target-oriented programs for the development of food subcomplexes of the agribusiness, which are currently the main efficiently operating program-target instrument for implementing the priority directions for development, hampers the possibilities to find a comprehensive solution of the existing problems. This takes into consideration the documents, on the basis of which a strategic planning is carried out in the agribusiness of the Amur Region, as a leader of the soybean production in Russia, and the most suitable region for the implementation of the pilot project to create the soy cluster.
The priorities and goals for the development of agriculture, including the soy sub-complex, are laid down in the main document that defines the regional policy of the region in the agribusiness, Strategy of Social and Economic Development of the Amur Region until 2025 (Strategy of Social and Economic Development, 2012). According to the document, one of the main principles of the regional policy of the Amur Region is the formation of the growth points, zones of priority development, clusters and special economic zones (Decree of the Government of the Amur Region, 2012). In the subsection "Prospects for the Application of the Modern Development Mechanisms in the Amur Region" of the Strategy, the soy cluster is also specified in the list of potential clusters, the formation of which in the case of sufficient investment, will allow the region to create steady competitive advantages. As noted in the document, "The project of creating a soy cluster will allow organizing steady production and technological chains from the cultivation of cereals and oil-yielding crops through their processing to the production of fodders as a basis for the livestock farming development of the meat and dairy directions" (Decree of the Government of the Amur Region, 2012).
The tasks that contribute to the development of the soy subcomplex are also set in the State target-oriented program "Development of the Agriculture and Regulation of the Markets of Agricultural Products, Primary Products and Foodstuffs of the Amur Region in 2014-2020 " and are defined concretely in the subprogram "Development of the Sub-Sector of Plant Production, Processing and Realization of Plant-Growing Products" (Decree of the Government of the Amur Region, 2013).
The two aforementioned documents highlight the following main goals and tasks, which, in the opinion of the developers, should contribute to the development of the soy subcomplex:
i) Expansion of sown areas up to 2 million hectares and bringing the production of soybean and cereals to 2 million tonnes;
ii) Modernization and construction of granaries, elevators, grain processing capacities;
iii) Industrialization of agriculture at the expense of updating the material and technical base with a new high-performance resource-saving equipment;
iv) Increase in the yields and productivity due to new innovative technologies of cultivation, production, application of new highly productive varieties and breeds;
v) Increase in the level of income of the population engaged in agricultural production, quality of life of the rural population, and development of the social infrastructure of the countryside;
vi) Implementation of the target-oriented personnel policy, including training and retraining of personnel, attraction and consolidation of young specialists;
vii) Development of integration connections and formation of food and territorial clusters; development of import-substituting subsectors of agriculture (including soybean production).
viii) Stimulating the development of seed production and yield increase;
ix) Stimulating the development of production and processing of plant-growing products;
x) Development of insurance and credit systems for the sub-sector of plant production;
xi) Reimbursement of partial expenses of agricultural commodity producers for payment of the insurance premium calculated under the contract of agricultural insurance in the field of plant production.
The conducted analysis of the regional policy of regulation of the agribusiness showed that in the agrarian sphere, the policy is distinctly sectoral in nature and the cluster approach is reflected only in the strategy of social and economic development. In fact, the State target-oriented program has not ensured the development of the cluster strategy of the soy subcomplex.
In this context, in our view, the high-priority task of the strategic planning for today is the development of the State-run program "Creation and Development of the Soy Cluster of the Amur Region" aimed at ensuring the integration of enterprises for the production and processing of soybean, serving infrastructure, public authorities, institutes of scientific support, financial and credit support system and other concerned parties within the framework of the united cluster space. The world experience shows that today one of the most effective mechanisms for the solution of the problems existing in agribusiness are cluster structures (Bezrukova et al., 2017; Wardhana et al., 2017; Abrham, 2014).
The considerable financial injections will be required in order to solve the technical and technological, social and economic problems. Because of the low investment attractiveness of the agribusiness, private investors have little interest in investing in its development. Therefore, the role of the organizer and coordinator in technical modernization and solving social problems falls to a greater extent on the state. In particular, financial support should be provided in the following areas:
(i) Subsidizing the purchase of seed material;
(ii) support in obtaining concessional lending for the modernization and construction of granaries, elevators, grain processing capacities and renewal of the machine and tractor fleet;
(iii) Providing state support to agricultural producers in the form of targeted grants and supporting small enterprise;
(iv) Reimbursement of partial expenses for loans;
(v) granting of tax privileges, including the possibility of partial exemption of agricultural producers from taxes;
(vi) Increase in the amount of financial resources aimed at the development of the social and household infrastructure of the rural periphery.