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Belarusian gold: How milk from cow udder reaches consumers?

On May 19, Rosselkhoznadzor sanitary watchdog again imposed a ban on the import of dairy products from Belarus. Famous enterprises are included in the restriction list. Belarus now has to seek alternative markets for the sale of these strategic product. Belarus today is in the top five world leaders in milk sales (together with the European Union, New Zealand, the USA and Australia). The demand for this product in the world is growing thanks to Asia. Indonesia and China have been taught to drink milk. This is their answer for tea.

So why not try our luck in growing markets? Especially since a jar of sweetened condensed milk can be safely added to the list of Belarusian symbols. Anastasia Benedysyuk traced the way of Belarusian milk from cow udder to the consumer.

The cargo of this freight forwarder is 16.5 tons of white gold. His work is top secret. As soon as the thermobox is filled to the brim, Pavel will seal each of the tanks. The seal can be removed only at the factory. He makes several trips a day, and it's been the case for four years. However, he can only guess about the taste of newly drawn milk. Tasting before the conclusion of experts is prohibited.

Yuri Pivovarchik, director of Belarusian State Veterinary Center:
This container is equipped with refrigerants. They should be enough to maintain the desired temperature. The norm for raw milk is up to 4 degrees Celsius. It's now +3. This should be sealed, so that there is no forgery or substitution of samples.

Here, the content is thoroughly examined and encrypted. A specialist who takes such a blue box with milk in the veterinary center is the last one who knows what cow gave it and who brought it. Then follows work under the microscope.

Ilona Kudrina, specialist of the Belarusian State Veterinary Center:
The specialist receives the encrypted sample and opens it. It is mixed up thoroughly. Then the sample is placed in a centrifuge for defatting.

All the necessary tests will be made on the extract of milk obtained in the laboratory. Here they will check for quality properties (density, fat content) and for antibiotics. The equipment is the most modern: we do not spare money for health and quality. Moreover, the work of the devices does not cease for a minute. Everything is important: both temperature and the absence of light.

Yuri Pivovarchik:
In this case, 15 samples were delivered, and after 9 hours the device automatically outputs the result. Without the participation of specialists. It is up to the specialist to evaluate these results. In this case, all 15 samples gave a negative result.

Alexander Subbotin, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Food of the Republic of Belarus - Director of the Department of Veterinary and Food Supervision:
Quality and image are very expensive. This is probably one of the most expensive that our enterprises have. And for years we have been trying to defend the brand "Belarusian quality" that we had won.

Belarus now is among the top five world producers of milk and absolute leader in terms of its per capita volume. We could completely provide another country like Belarus with milk and still some would be left.

Belarusian dairy products don't have geographical barriers. They are delivered to the Emirates by plane and to China by train. By the way, this week, five Belarusian companies in Beijing signed contracts worth about $13 million. And this figure is only for 2017. In the future, the supplies are expected to increase.

Alexei Bogdanov, head of the Foreign Trade Department of the Ministry of Agriculture and Food of Belarus:
China does not refuse milk. As for our statistics, in Q1 2017, we supplied 3,000 tons of milk more than in 2016 and have already increased exports by $4.2 million. We supply dry whey, milk powder (fat-free) and whole milk too. We supply ultra-pasteurized milk, butter and cheeses.

In China, Belarusian dairy products are considered high-quality goods worth buying. Belarusian milk in Chinese stores stands next to French wine! Although the Chinese market is strategic for Belarus, the country is actively working to diversify exports to the countries of the Persian Gulf and South-East Asia.

Nina Kosenkova, head of the Novoselki complex:
After milking milk goes through these lines, through filters and enters the refrigerator. There, milk is cooled to 6 degrees. And then we sell it.

This is a milk-commodity complex named Rodina (English: Motherland). The udders of cows are compared here with the fuel tank of tractors: 90% of the product is of extra class, with a fat content of 3.8%. Since 2010, everything has been automated. At some farms, Belarus has introduced precise robots and 3D cameras for udders, while milking takes place under the music of Chopin. Fresh flowers are everywhere.

Alexander Lapotentov, chairman of the collective farm Rodina:
We started with one and a half tons of milk, but now the farm gets 46 tons of milk per day. We sell almost 16,000 tons.

Nina Kosenkova:
We feed special feed mixture to the cows. Corn silage. 25 kilograms a day. We give 15kg of haylage too.

The productivity of dairy herd and the quality of ready-made natural products depends on many factors. Until 2017, cows were fed Belarusian grass and grain but protein was bought for foreign currency from abroad. But this year the fodder conservation policy changed. Thanks to the new technology, there will be 20% more milk. The health of cows will also improve. How will this be achieved? The answer is colza!

Anastasia Benedysyuk, correspondent:
One hectare of these crops equals to one ton of protein, or $400. Once the harvest is collected, a pea/oat mixture will be planted here. Protein content is the same - one ton. So it turns out that only one hectare will allow Belarus to save $800.

The savings on a national scale can amount to millions of US dollars.

It turns out that Belarus has high-quality forage, healthy cows and extra-class milk. Tight control is everywhere: from grass to production, processing and export. Yet, there are still complaints from the Rosselkhoznadzor watchdog. They are unreasonable, assures the Belarusian side.

Leonid Zayats, Agriculture and Food Minister of Belarus:
We gave exhaustive answers to more than 2,000 pages of text, where we show exactly the consistency of our dairy industry. The fact that this product is safe, environmentally friendly and is in demand by consumers.

We delivered 4 million tons of dairy products to Russia in 2016 alone. Next Monday, talks will be held between the Belarusian and Russian ministries.

Belarusian gold: How milk from cow udder reaches consumers?