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Lukashenko: Belarus is totally self-sufficient in food

MINSK, 30 April (BelTA) – Belarus is totally self-sufficient in food and sells about half of produced foodstuffs abroad, President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko has said as he met with students and teaching staff of the Belarusian State Agrarian Technical University on 30 April, BelTA has learnt.

“Agriculture provides us with foodstuffs, the processing industry with raw materials, and a great number of people with jobs. The well-being of people and stability of the state depends on the situation in this sector,” the President said.

Alexander Lukashenko emphasized that of all the types of security, the food security is particularly important, because hunger uprisings are a great threat to any state and a tragedy for the society. He recalled the difficult 1990s when even in Minsk flour reserves for baking bread would last for just two or three days and food tokens had to be distributed among the population. “Therefore, a task was set to restore agricultural production, outpace food production in the times of the USSR and make Belarus self-sufficient in food. It took strenuous effort and mobilization of all internal resources to overcome these difficulties,” the head of state said.

“It was back then that we realized the absurdity of recommendations of those foreign and local “experts” who advised against developing agriculture and suggested burying “money underground” and buying food from abroad. However, food dependence is bondage and a deadlock. So we decided in favor of promoting and supporting the agricultural sector,” Alexander Lukashenko asked.

According to the President, now Belarus fully meets its needs in foodstuffs and sells about half of the food abroad. In 2012, it was estimated at over $5 billion, and is to make $7 billion by the end of 2015. “We can be proud that Belarus ranks first in the CIS in terms of per capita production of food staples. We caught up with Germany in meat production and outpaced developed European countries in milk production,” the Belarusian leader said.

Alexander Lukashenko reminded of the large-scale government program of rural revival and development that ran in 2005-2010. The major focus of the program was the development of social infrastructure in rural communities in a bid to encourage people to stay in the countryside. Now Belarus needs to focus on production. Modern agro-towns should become the center of rural live, and agriculture should generate profits. “We should no way cut big agricultural companies into pieces. We do not mind farmers, but big agricultural companies are more promising in the long-term perspective,” the Belarusian head of state said. Almost 1,500 agro-towns with decent living standards have been set up in Belarus.

According to the President, one of Belarus’ top priorities is the adequate infrastructure for agribusiness. “You know that competitiveness of agricultural production depends on modern efficient technologies in crop production and cattle breeding. Therefore, we attach utmost attention to continuous technical upgrade of agriculture. Over the last two years alone, over Br7.5 trillion was spent on buying new vehicles and tractors. Renovation and construction of new dairy farms, poultry farms and animal breeding complexes are ongoing,” Alexander Lukashenko said.

Qualified personnel are just as important for successful development of agriculture. Alexander Lukashenko demanded focusing on practical training of students studying at the university.