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Lukashenko hears out report on Belarus' agricultural performance

MINSK (BelTA) – Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko met with Agriculture and Food Minister Ivan Krupko and Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Subbotin to hear out their reports on 12 November, BelTA has learned.

First of all, the head of state focused on the issues related to the completion of the harvest season and the need to prepare the fields for spring works.

“As we agreed, all harvest works need to be completed by 15 November. We have done a very good job this year and cleaned the main crops on time,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The president was interested in the performance of the agricultural sector in 2020, including financial performance of agricultural companies. “The agricultural sector has always had difficulties. Abroad serious support is provided to agricultural enterprises and farmers. We also support our agriculture as much as we can. What is the financial situation in agriculture? The loans that the agricultural sector took must be repaid. Today there is a good opportunity to settle debts with banks and the budget,” the head of state said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also spoke about the preservation of the harvest and supply of products to stores. The president reminded the participants of the meeting that he asked trade unions to keep pricing issues in the country under control. “They will control prices for staple products, food products in the first place. We agreed to prepare stabilization funds, i.e. stocks, so that we had enough foodstuffs till May-June. It is necessary to strictly control the work of the governors, the local authorities in food provision for the winter and spring period, so that there would be no price fluctuations,” the president instructed the deputy prime minister.

The head of state touched upon the situation with agriculture in Vitebsk Oblast. He stated that several integration structures for processing agricultural raw materials had been set up in the region. “What are the results? This issue should be under strict control. Otherwise, in some 3-5 years they will come and say that it did not work. We have to control the matter every year. It seems to be a good system. We will later introduce it in other regions. Somewhere there will be enterprises that we will unite and they will be processing products from kolkhozes [collective farms], sovkhozes [state farms] and farmers,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The president said that the Belarusian People's Congress is to take place in the coming months. The agenda of the meeting will also include the future of the country's agro-industrial sector. “Our country needs an agricultural development program for 2021-2025,” the head of state said.

According to Agriculture and Food Minister Ivan Krupko, in January-October 2020 the agricultural output across all categories of enterprises rose 4.6%. The increase across agricultural organizations made up 6.7%.

“Does it mean that kolkhozes and sovkhozes ensured a bigger output than farmers?” the head of state asked. The minister replied that agricultural enterprises showed a greater growth – 6.7% year-on-year, comparing to 96% in private farm households. “All the regions posted year-on-year growth,” Ivan Krupko added.

In January-September 2020, agricultural companies produced 5.7 million tonnes of milk (up 5.8%), 477,000 tonnes of cattle breeding products (up 5.3%), 343,000 tonnes of pig products (up 8.3%), 537,000 tonnes of poultry (up 3.1%), 8.2 million tonnes of grain (up 17.5%).

Positive dynamics in production, observance of technological discipline, reduction of production and sales costs helped improve financial performance of agricultural companies. In January-August 2020, agricultural enterprises earned Br9.6 billion from the sale of products, up almost 16% year-on-year. Profit exceeded Br560 million (up 26.6%), profitability of sales increased from 5.3% to 5.8%.

Increase in production also contributed to the development of processing enterprises, which in turn expanded exports of agricultural products and food. In January-September 2020, an estimated $4.2 million worth of food products were sold, up 6.1% year-on-year.