RUSAG-L: Current Events #25

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 Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
Daily Report (RFE/RL), the Foreign Broadcast Information Service
at the Central Intelligence Agency's Central Eurasia Daily Report
(FBIS), U.S. Department of Agriculture's AG a.m., 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.

14 June 1994:
-The current exchange rate is listed at R1952 per dollar. (The
Washington Post, June 14, 1994)

9 June 1994:
-On June 8, the State Duma voted to approve the budget in its
second reading.  The revisions suggested by the budget committee
were all adopted.  The budget lists expenditures at 194.5
trillion rubles or $120 billion, revenues at 124.5 trillion
rubles or $65 billion, and projects a deficit of 70 trillion
rubles or $37 billion.  The Duma approved an increase in defense
spending from 37 trillion rubles to 40 trillion rubles, much less
than the amount requested by the defense industry. (RFE/RL, June
9, 1994)

-Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais remains firm on the June
8 deadline set for exchanging privatization vouchers for shares
in state property.  Chubais expects only 5 percent of the
vouchers to go unused.  Shares in roughly 20 percent of state
firms will be sold for cash after the privatization program is
completed. (RFE/RL, June 9, 1994)

3 June-June 10, 1994:
-According to Ivan Gridasov, the official in charge of grain
production at the Ministry of Agriculture, Russian farmers had
sown 37.59 million ha of spring grain by June 6, 914,000 ha more
than at the same time last year.  100,000 ha more of sunflowers
had also been sown, but producers were behind last year's sowing
in other areas.  1.1 million ha of sugar beets had been sown,
down 140,000 ha;  730,000 ha of grain maize, down 65,000 ha;
130,000 ha of flax, down 122,000 ha;  165,000 ha of vegetables,
down 47,000 ha;  and only 400,000 ha of potatoes, 278,000 ha less
than this time last year. (Interfax News Agency, Food and
Agricultural Report, June 3-June 10, 1994, p.2)

-Although the Russian leadership has stressed repeatedly that
Russia will not import grain in 1994, experts say that smaller
winter harvests will make it hard to reject imports.  Russian
officials predict winter wheat and rye harvests will yield only
around 28-29 million tons, compared to 36.3 million tons last
year and a five-year average of 41.8 million tons. (Interfax News
Agency, Food and Agriculture Report, June 3-June 10, 1994, p. 5)

-The Russian Ministry of Agriculture's price policy directorate
has issued a list of anticipated prices for agricultural products
in 1994.  The prices, listed below, are based on current market
prices and take inflation into account.  1 ton of wheat is priced
at an average of 220,000 rubles, compared to 65,100 rubles per
ton last year;  350,000 rubles per ton of sunflower seed,
compared to 89,300 rubles per ton in 1993;  79,000 rubles per ton
of sugar beets, compared to 23,600 rubles last year;  and 200,000
rubles per ton of potatoes, compared to 69,000 rubles per ton
last year.  The directorate also stressed that the state would
buy farm produce at market prices this year. (Interfax News
Agency, Food and Agriculture Report, June 3-June 10, 1994, p.6)

27 May-June 3, 1994:
-In the agricultural sector, production has slowed considerably
since farmers have not had the means to purchase new equipment.
However, under a new resolution adopted by the Russian
government, Russian farmers can now buy new equipment and
accessories with a 25-30 percent down payment on their purchases.
The balance can be paid in installments over several years.
Experts predict this new system will result in the purchase of
over 150 billion rubles of new equipment each year by the
agricultural sector. (Interfax News Agency, Food and Agriculture
Report, May 27-June 3, 1994, p. 2)

-Before privatization vouchers become invalid on July 1, 1994,
officials expect the majority of Roskhleboprodukt's 2500
enterprises to be privatized.  Roskhleboprodukt is the state
grain purchasing agency.  Only 150 of the key enterprises, such
as port elevators, state storage facilities, and enterprises
along key railroad routes, will remain in state hands.
Nonetheless, Leonid Cheshinsky, the president of
Roskhleboprodukt, expects the process to proceed slowly.  He says
local administrators who are responsible for providing their
regions with grain will resist losing grain storage enterprises
located on their territories. (Interfax News Agency, Food and
Agriculture Report, May 27-June 3, 1994, p.8)

25 May 1994:
--The SovEkon center is predicting that Russian farmers will
harvest between 80 and 85 million tons of grain this year
compared to 99 million tons in 1993 and 107 million tons in 1992.
SovEkon officials estimate such low yields because figures show
that the area sown to winter crops declined by 20 percent and
that about 15 percent or 2 million hectares of winter crops that
were sown have died.  Also, as of May 1, farmers had 40 percent
less fuel stocks than last year and used one-half the amount of
fertilizer and toxic chemicals on this year's crops. (FBIS, May
25, 1994)

-Sergey Vasilyev, Deputy Economics Minister, advocates
introducing a fixed rouble exchange to promote investments in the
economy.  Vasilyev contends that a strengthened rouble will
attract financing from the general population and provide much
needed confidence to Russian depositors. (FBIS, May 25, 1994)

Area of Interest:  Belarus

27 May-June 3, 1994:
-The World Bank will lend Belarus $41.9 million to modernize its
timber industry.  Currently, Belarus' timber production amounts
to about 10 million cubic meters each year.  With the purchase of
new felling equipment, Belarus officials expect production levels
to reach 15 million cubic meters a year. (Interfax News Agency,
Food and Agriculture Report, May 27-June 7, 1994, p.3)

Commonwealth of Independent States

3 June-June 10, 1994:
-A late, cold spring and heavy floodwaters have held up spring
sowing throughout the Commonwealth of Independent States.  Only
farmers in Southern Russia, Ukraine, and Moldova have kept ahead
of last year's sowing pace. (Interfax News Agency, Food and
Agriculture Report, June 3-June 10, 1994, p.14)