A foreign farm investor in Russia has hit back at claims by Velcourt of endemic "dishonesty" and "lack of accountability" in the country's agriculture, terming the claims "unsubstantiated".
Colin Norman, chief executive of Freyr Farming, said that he was "spitting blood and feathers" after reading comments on Agrimoney.com from UK-based Velcourt, that "the significant factor holding back the development of [agriculture in] Russia is honest, accountable farm management".
"Yes farming in Russia is a challenge and not for the faint hearted," said Mr Norman, head of a business which manages 2,000 hectares in Russia's central Black Earth region, growing potatoes and vegetables, and is close to sealing expansion into a further 3,000 hectares.
However, "every country has issues," said Mr Norman, a Briton who has 20 years' experience in Russian agriculture, terming the comments by Velcourt, with which he has had dealings in Russia, as "unsubstantiated".
Velcourt's criticism is "not justified", he told Agrimoney.com.
When Russian farm managers "are incentivised, firstly by showing them respect and the recognition of the fact that we are operating in their country, understanding language and culture, they will work hard, they will work diligently and honestly and with a resilience that is to be admired."
He added: "Anyone entering Russia or any other country with a developing agriculture, surely does so with their eyes open and more importantly with an open mind - not with a bigoted view from the outset."
'Corruption and stealing'
However, the comments from Brian Redrup, who has represented Velcourt in Russia for 10 years, have received support too, with another Western chief executive at a Russian farm enterprise saying that "investors do not understand the challenges".
"The corruption and stealing is just getting worse at the moment at the rural areas of Russia," said the chief executive, who has more than a decade's experience in Russia farming, and who wished to remain anonymous.
"I could write a book about it."
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