Entrepreneur Evgeny Skigin before school age I moved to Germany with his mother and older brother Michael. The move arranged by his father — Leningrad businessman Dmitry Skigin, which in the 1980s was engaged in the export of forest products, and later joined the Board of Directors “Petersburg oil terminal” (PNT). After emigrating parents divorced, and in 2003 Skigin Sr. died abroad. The legacy brothers had inherited the business and property assets, which they soon sold. “Brother decided to return to Petersburg and engaged in the Affairs of his father. My help it needed,” explains Eugene. He in 2005 went to study in Australia, and by the end of the University thinking about business.
While the elder brother ruled at St. Petersburg oil flows, the younger imbued with the ideas of “green” business, announced at the UN conference on climate change in Copenhagen. “I was inspired by the idea of development of the market of renewable resources: ekotoplivo, plastic recycling, cultivation of crop species, are able to improve the economic situation”, — says Eugene Skigin, which even built on the Australian coast own “eco dreams” for $14 million Watching over the Affairs of pot, especially after the fluctuation in oil prices in 2008, Eugene was looking for a more stable niche.
After a short analysis of the market of renewable resources so that hemp is an adaptable and multi-culture. “Industrial hemp in food in the form of seeds and oil, and for the production of fibers for nonwovens, ropes and rope (hemp), textiles, and as a material for construction and animal bedding (fire)” — lists Skigin. Culture does not require a lot of water and chemicals and is suitable unlike other bast (flax, jute) for growing both in Finland and in Thailand.
Skigin began searching for partners. On request “hemp in Australia” (industrial hemp in Australia) in Google, I found only one company EcoFibre, which wrote a letter to General email box with the offer to enter the business. The e-mail went directly to the founder, the Australian, Phil Warner, who, 20 years working as a film producer, in 1994, left the film industry and headed the family farm business.
By the beginning of 2009, when Skigin met Warner, EcoFibre was 280 hectares of land in the East of Australia, 230 varieties, a few harvesters and one license. It turned out that the company needed investment. Then Skigin bought 50% of the company and at the same time gained an experienced partner dreamed of. The amount of his investment, he did not disclose, but said that for several years Australian small business has tripled. Seven years later he sold his share in EcoFibre US investors on the valuation of $25 million.
At the annual motor show in London in the summer of 2008 the attention of visitors was focused on “the car made of hemp”. British Lotus introduced a car body panel which is made of a material with the addition of bast fibres used in the manufacture of ropes. According to Schina, the market of nonwoven materials was already well developed in Europe, and the idea of green manufacturing is extremely popular. In 2009, one of the industrial exhibitions, where Eugene went every year, he met with a Dutch farmer, the owner of the company for the production of industrial hemp in the Netherlands Dun Agro, and became its shareholder. Today the enterprise has about 1000 hectares of cultivated areas, the plant capacity of 6 tons per hour of trusts from which you get the fiber. Up to 95% of the Dutch industrial hemp is non-woven materials, including vehicle interior trim BMW and Mercedes from neighboring Germany.
In the Netherlands, has only a few konoplevodami businesses, but they own about 20% of the European market hemp. Dutch business grew, and in 2012, Dun Agro leased land abroad, in Denmark, but the Russian owner is still not enough space. “Holland is a small country, the acreage is limited,” complains Skigin. In 2013 he decided to sow hemp in Russia: the price of land is lower and labor is cheaper. To start a business helped when the older brother, with whom he had several joint companies for trade of petroleum products, road construction, pharmaceutics.
In the summer of 2013 Skigin went to explore konoplevodami enterprises in the Krasnodar, Orel, and Tver. “I first became acquainted with the Russian exotic, delicious tomatoes and Russian beer, — says the businessman. But the factories, as they say in Russia, without tears will not look”. After the tour, it became clear that to enter the business, as did Skigin earlier will not work — these companies did not exist on the market. Then, Eugene has prepared a business plan of their company and showed it to the Roman Belousov, who previously worked at managing holding pot and became a partner Skekinah. “It was a project from scratch in the truest sense of the word — says Belousov. — In Russia there was practically nothing to start this business: lost grades, human resources, agronomy. We have long ceased to produce anything that is associated with konoplevodami”. In March 2015 Skigin Jr. and Belousov registered, OOO-growing of cereals, legumes and oilseeds, are included in the Cyprus Konoplex Limited.
Hemp as a crop in Russia for many years was in oblivion. Since 1961, the Union ratified the UN Convention “On drugs”, according to which hemp was outlawed. “From the first place in the world with 1 million hectares of farmland, we have sunk to 4000-th”, — cites Alexander Smirnov, the President of Agroindustrial Association of konoplevodami (apak) and chief scientific officer of the Penza research Institute of agriculture. The figure is not comparable with the flax industry, where acreage is 50 000-60 000 ha. When the situation in konoplivtsi reached the bottom, the industry began to recover and to subsidize.
In 2008, a meeting was held in the Federal drug control service, which brought together Industrialists and government officials headed by Viktor Ivanov, Director of the Federal service on control over drug trafficking. It was about the cultivation of non-narcotic hemp on an industrial scale, the establishment of seed base, new jobs and the fight against drug abuse. “It seems that not even all the congregation was represented by the value of the plant — says Smirnov. — Present Andrei Fursenko was surprised that American paper dollars doing it from hemp pulp.”
In relation to cannabis is still a lot of patterns and prejudices, agree in the “Monoplex”. The company was faced with this at the presentation stage of the project in the regions, where he planned to buy the land for sowing. “We spent a lot of effort to get the word “hemp” does not cause laughter and rejection,” says General Director of “Kinopleks” Milena Aleksandrova. At all levels, from residents of neighboring towns to administrations of the region, had to explain why we need industrial hemp that it does not violate the Russian legislation (in Russia allowed to grow varieties with the content of the psychoactive substance tetrahydrocannabinol, THC, is not more than 0.1%), and the “Monoplex” ready for inspection of police.
“I for 10 years used to different jokes about it, says smiling, Skigin. Although in the Western world less technical confuse hemp with the drug, they even the names are different: hemp and marijuana”. Although outwardly indistinguishable plants, the difference between the varieties is enormous, confirms Smirnov of the Penza agricultural research Institute: “Field with the technical hemp is not even need protection, because the addicts know very well that these varieties are not dope and drinking is absolutely not suitable”.
The new leader
Next to a juicy three-meter hemp is adjacent the flat red box is the dry stalks of plants, or the trust. Red tractor, equipped with side brushes, hemp rolling in the hay, leaving a dusty trail. In the process of maceration (breakdown of tissue) from the stem peels off only 25% of the fiber remains the core of bonfire, explains Skigin. Its application is almost unlimited: organic fertilizer, bedding for animals, ekotoplivo, paper, bandages and cotton wool, building materials (e.g., mastrobation known for its durability, insulating properties and ability to “breathe”). “In Holland we are mainly engaged in processing of trusts, but in Russia it was necessary to start with a seed base”, — says Eugene.
The first million rubles of investments “Kinopleks” spent on the seeds agreed with the Penza research Institute of agriculture at the price of 400 rubles per kilogram. In 2015 sowed two tons on 115 hectares in Bryansk region, and collected about 60 “For the first year of a good indicator, says Milena Aleksandrova. — From that moment we began to engage in seed production and were the originators of several varieties.” Later tried to work in the Ryazan region, but eventually settled in Penza, where favorable natural conditions and has room to grow.
Over the last two years, “Monoplex” was, in fact, konoplevodami the largest enterprise in the country. According to the Association of konoplevodami, of 7.9 hectares of farmland in Russia, half of which belongs to the Penza companies. Today “Kinopleks” has in different forms (property, municipal, and private rental) with a total area of 12 500 hectares this season under hemp varieties “Sursky”, “Faith” and “Hope” set aside 3500 hectares for the rest of crops for crop rotation (flax, sunflower, mustard, etc.).
Thus, Skigin ahead of the other noticeable player in the market — “Mordovia plants produce about hemp” (EMF), owned by entrepreneur and former Deputy Prime Minister of Moscow suburbs to Dmitry Bolshakova. Key areas MPZ — non-food, hemp needs one of Russia’s largest distributors of twine, cords and ropes “Kona”, which belongs to him together with partners. According to the Director of the plant Alexander Kuchinsky, the company annually increases the acreage, this year hemp planted 700 ha and the Yield per hectare is 0.5 MT of seeds and 1 ton of fiber.
Harvest “Kinopleks” at the end of the year should be almost twice as much — 600 tonnes of seed and 1,500 tons of fiber. According to the business plan Eugene Skigin, immediately after the creation of its own seed base, it was decided to run a grocery direction to press the oil and sell the cleaned seeds for salads and confectionery industry, as well as cake for animal feed in livestock. To do this, at the beginning of 2018 “Kinopleks” has launched the production line of cold-pressed oil, it has invested about 50 million rubles. Small shop (part of the old confectionery factory near Penza) to the end of the year will release 2,500 bottles of oil under the brand name “Linnet”, which has sold about 50 regional networks, major online stores such as OZON and Wildberries, as well as in the Moscow shops of a healthy food, “Gastronome №1” in Gum.
In the fall of 2018 “Kinopleks” agreed to put hemp seed, flax, mustard, sunflower, and pumpkin seed oil in the “ABC taste”, as well as on the shelves of hypermarkets “Karusel”. “The demand for healthy food in the cities and among affluent consumers is increasing. To the maximum extent possible to cover the demand, we are introducing a niche product” — explain in “Carousel”.
The dynamics of food segment in konoplivtsi, evaluates the Director of apak Julia Divnich: “a Couple of years ago, it was only oil and seeds, and now this protein, smoothies, milk, energy bars, salad dressings and even pasta”.
In the first nine months “Kinopleks” oil sold for 75 million rubles, to close the year with revenue planned 100 million, says Milena Aleksandrova. Still, the main plan Eugene Skigin — to expand non-food as in Holland. For this he was not sorry neither forces, nor money: on the eve of harvest he has brought to Russia the Dutch combine worth more than €300 000, like a monster with giant silver claws — unlike the rusted konoplianka Soviet times. Skigin arranges internships for Russian engineers in Europe and invited Western experts to Penza. The total investment since the establishment of the “Kinopleks” amounted to about 400 million rubles. “Mordovia plants produce about hemp” in about the same period, has invested about 200 million, says Kuczynski.
For the pioneers of the hemp industry, the economy of the creation of the enterprise will be different depending on the directions of development, says Julia Divnich. Among those who turned to her for advice, there are projects and 2 million and 3 billion rubles. “While there is no waste of the algorithms in the industry, each will develop its own by trial and error,” says she.