RUSAG-L: Current Events #71


Please keep in mind that the following current events information represents
information about events in Russian agriculture we received during the past
week, while the actual events may have occurred earlier.

The sources for the information below include, but are not limited to, the
following:  the Open Media Research Center (OMRI), Interfax News, Food and
Agriculture Report, the Foreign Broadcast Information Service at the Central
Intelligence Agency's Central Eurasia Daily Report (FBIS), Nexis/Lexis through
Mead Data Central, Inc., and The Washington Post.

The Russian Agricultural ListServ is sponsored by the University of Maryland
College of Agriculture at College Park, the Research and Scientific Exchanges
Division, Foreign Agriculture Service/International Cooperation and
Development, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the National Committee on
International Science and Education of the Joint Council on Food and
Agricultural Sciences.

6 January 1996:

-The Washington Post lists the current exchange rate at R4661 per dollar. (The Washington Post, January 6, 1996).

5 January 1996:

-According to an article in OMRI, the Mafia appears to be vying for fishing profits in the Russian Far East. Oleg Ten, the general director of Primorybprom, the largest fishing companies in the Russian Far East, narrowly escaped assassination when his car was sprayed with automatic fire. His driver and bodyguard were killed. Andrei Zakharenko, Ten's predecessor, was killed three months ago. (OMRI, No. 4, Part I, January 5, 1996). -The shrinking of the Aral Sea in Russia has long held ecologists attention. Now, however, the Caspian Sea appears to have created a different problem; its level is rising. In recent years, 300,000 hectares of coastal land in Dagestan have been inundated. The Russian government and local governments have already pledged approximately $72 million for conservation work. (OMRI, No. 4, Part I, January 5, 1996).

4 January 1996:

-The Communist Party (KPRF) will not decide at its next Central Committee meeting, January 10-11, who will represent the Communist Party in the 1996 presidential elections. The Party has shunned overtures from the Congress of Russian Communities to join forces behind KRO presidential candidate Lt. General Aleksandr Lebed. Instead, Party members say they will likely hold talks with the Agrarian Party and the "Power to the People!" movement to consider potential candidates. (Monitor, Jamestown Foundation, Vol II, No. 3, January 1, 1996).

2 January 1996:

-The final results released from the Central Electoral Commission show that a total of 69.2 million of the 107.5 million eligible voters participated in the Duma elections. Four parties had a combined 50.49% of all ballots cast and cleared the 5% threshold. The Communist Party of the Russian Federation (KPRF) won 22.30% of the party-list vote and 157 Duma seats. Our Home Is Russia, Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's party, won 10.13% of the vote and a total of 55 seats. Vladimir Zhirinovsky's party, the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia won 11.18% of the vote but only one single-member district and will have 51 seats in the new Duma. Yabloko won 6.89% and 45 seats. Twenty-four parties did not clear the 5% hurdle, including the Agrarian Party which won only 3.87% of the vote. The APR did win 20 single-member seats in the Duma. (OMRI, No. 1, Part I, January 2, 1996). -Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais warned that members of the newly elected Duma will attempt to rescind the numerous laws, regulations, and institutions which create and protect the various privatized firms. Chubais said that millions of owners would resist such changes and that he doubted the Duma could reverse privatization laws without "spilling blood." (OMRI, No. 1, Part I, January 2, 1996). -According to Ivan Starikov, Russia's Deputy Economics Minister, Russia will need to import grain from abroad after its disappointing 1995 harvest. Starikov said he expected the import purchases to be placed by regional purchasing funds. Russia produced only 65 million tons of grain in 1995. Grain imports fell from 35 million tons in 1991 to 11 million tons in 1993 and 3 million in 1994. (OMRI, No. 1, Part I, January 2, 1996).

28 December 1995:

-Statistics released from Russia's Ministry of Foreign Economic Relations show that Russia's deliveries of gas, petroleum, and crude oil to other CIS countries are down. Food imports, however, have increased. Meat and meat products, butter, beet sugar, and grain led the surge in food imports. Experts suggest that CIS countries may develop substantial leverage over Russia if Russian imports of foodstuffs from these countries continue to rise. (Monitor, Jamestown Foundation, Vol 1, No. 167, December 28, 1995).

22 December 1995:

-Although the Agrarian Party failed to clear the 5% threshold in the December parliamentary elections, the Party may still retain its leadership of the Duma's Committee on Agrarian Affairs through its 20 single-member seats. However, the leadership could effectively pass to the control of the Communist Party (KPRF). (OMRI Special Report: Russian Election Survey, No. 15, December 22, 1995).

15 December-29 December 1995:

-The Agrarian Party of Russia, which is often accused of being more a lobby than a party, clearly overrated its potential as representative of Russia's rural areas. The Party had boasted of a rural electorate that accounted for 38% of the nation's votes and contained various coalitions of related sectors, such as fishing and forestry. The Party failed to clear the necessary 5% threshold, but picked up 20 single-member seats in the Duma. Mikhail Lapshin, President of Russia's Agrarian Party, said the Party's poor showing did not mark a withdrawal from the political scene. He said to "walk away from the fight would be a great tragedy for the peasantry." (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, Vol IV, Issues 51-52, December 15-29, 1995, p. 2). -The Russian Federal government, regional authorities, and members of the board of the Rostselmash Combine Maker have reached an agreement aimed at salvaging Russia's largest farm machinery maker. The plan provides for an infusion of money to modernize its facilities and equipment and implementation of a leasing program whereby, farmers pay for their machinery in installments. Alexander Livshits, President Boris Yeltsin's chief economic aide, said the government will stop all programs at the plant, if Rostselmash fails to keep its part of the bargain. Livshits also noted that the Rostselmash program is an experiment that could pave the way for similar rescue packages to other industries that provide the "lifeblood" of whole communities. (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, Vol IV, Issues 51-52, December 15-29, 1995, p. 3) -Officials at the Russian Ministry of Agriculture fear that pests and diseases could sweep across Russia's farmlands next year because of a catastrophic decline in the use of pesticides and other crop protection chemicals. According to Valentin Mironov, who chairs the Chemicalization and Crop Protection Department at the Ministry, Russian farmers protected 80 million hectares of their crops or about 60% of their total areas from pests, diseases, and weeds during the last full years of the Soviet Union, between 1986-1990. Farmers applied approximately 200,000 tons of pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, rodenticides, and other chemicals annually. 35,000 tons of the protection chemicals were imported. Grain yields averaged 1.8 tons/ha. In 1995, Russian farmers applied just 32,000 tons of protection chemicals of which 9,700 tons of it were imported. Farmers had just enough to cover 23 million ha or 18% of the total crop area. The average grain yield in 1995 was 1.2 tons/ha. Since foreign pesticide imports must undergo strenuous testing before they can be used in Russia, Mironov said the Ministry of Agriculture and Food is looking for alternative weapons to fight pests and diseases, particularly biological ones. (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, Vol IV, Issues 51-52, December 15-29, 1995, pp. 4-5). -Russian food plants had a 2% increase in output in 1995 due to a 784 billion ruble capital investment in new capacity over 1991-1995. However, food plants have not been able to recapture the ground they lost in the immediate post-Soviet years. Analysts also worry that the new capacity is designed to process imported products. Below is a sample of Russian Food Production in 1990 and 1995, taken from Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, Vol IV, Issues 51-52, December 15-29, 1995, pp. 11-12: Unit: tons In 1990: In 1995: Meat: 60.3 3.4 Sausage: 271.3 270.1 Meat Preparations: 125.2 41.6 Cheese: 14400 2408 Whole-milk products: 2142.8 534.1 Canned dairy products: 2500 cans 1990 Fruit, vegetable preserves: 37.9 cans 3.8 Potato products: 22595 4740 Baking yeast: 21.1 14.4 Confectionery: 270.8 231.5 Pasta: 15.8 18.8 Vodka, liqueurs: 7685 3070 Cognac: 540 30 Grape Wine: 2520 354 Champagne: 30830 1920 Beer: 30541 gal 22960 Soft drinks: 23.7 gal 6.3 Mineral water bottles: 86.9 57.7 (min 0.5 L) Packed tea: 23.2 11 Food concentrates: 80 16.7

AREAS OF INTEREST

ROMANIA 5 January 1996: -Floods in Romania have affected 25 out of 40 counties and caused substantial damage. Cornel Mitoiu of the State Waters Inspectorate said that thousands of hectares of farmland are under water and thousands of homes have been destroyed. Although it is too early to tell, Mitoiu said that the damages may reach tens of billions of lei (tens of millions of US dollars). (OMRI, No. 4, Part II, January 5, 1996). BULGARIA 4 January 1996: -Political differences continue to plague members of Bulgaria's governing Socialist Party. Member of the reformist Alliance within the governing Socialist Party have called for the resignation of Agriculture Minister Vasil Chichibaba. They blame Chichibabba for the ongoing grain shortage. (OMRI, No. 3, Part II, January 4, 1996) 2 January 1996: -Bulgaria's mass voucher privatization program is scheduled to begin on January 9. About one-half of the enterprises slated for privatization are in industry, while most of the remainder are in agriculture, tourism, and construction. (OMRI, No. 1, Part II, January 2, 1996) 29 December 1995: -The Bulgarian cabinet extended the ban on the export of bread and feed grain and oil-bearing seeds and their derivatives for another year. The move comes after this year's dismal harvest, the lowest in 15 years, except for 1985. The cabinet also proposed that the export of meat, coal, and liquid fuels be subjected to registration. The cabinet's proposal has been controversial because officials fear it will hurt Bulgaria's chances of joining the World Trade Organization. (OMRI, No. 251, Part II, December 29, 1995). BELARUS 15 December-29 December 1995: -Belarus officials announced a bumper potato crop for 1995. Belarussian farmers harvested 9.5 million tons of potatoes or 1.3 million tons more than last year. Yields increased from 1.1 tons per hectare to 1.28 tons per hectare. The crop area also increased by 28,200 ha to 725,200 ha. Private and individual farms accounted for the bulk of the crop. State and collective farms harvested just 1.2 million tons. The bumper harvest should meet all the country's needs. In 1994, Belarus imported 1,500 tons from neighboring Poland. (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, Vol IV, Issues 51-52, December 15-29, 1995, p. 5)