RUSAG-L: Current Events #32

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), 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 List Serve 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.


1 September 1994:
-The current exchange rate is listed at R2156 per dollar. (The
Washington Post, September 1, 1994)


29 August 1994:
-Approximately 2,000 collective farmers demonstrated in Moscow on
August 25.  The farmers called for the resignation of Russian
President Boris Yeltsin and the current government.  They also
demanded the return to a command economy and a ban on the
privatization of land.  Mikhail Lapshin, a leader of the Agrarian
Party, addressed the rally. (RFE/RL, August 29, 1994)


19-26 August 1994:
-US Secretary of Agriculture, Mike Espy, will visit Russia in
September to discuss imports and the status of Russian agrarian
reforms.  Espy is expected to meet with Deputy Prime Minister in
charge of agriculture, Alexander Zaveryukha, and visit private
farms and US-Russian livestock projects in the Kaluga region.  US
aid helped form a market information system in the Kaluga region
to keep wholesalers aware of farm price changes.  Espy and
Zaveryukha are also expected to discuss an agreement on
technological and economic cooperation being drafted by the US
Department of Agriculture and the Russian Ministry of Agriculture
and Food.  (Interfax News Agency, Food and Agriculture Report, p.
2, August 19-26, 1994)

-So far, the 10%-20% import tariffs imposed on staple foods on
July 1 have not effected food prices.  According to officials at
the tariff department at the Russian Ministry of Foreign Economic
Relations, the market has yet to react in any way to the import
tariffs.  However, prices for sugar, which is subject to a 20%
duty, are growing 4.5% a week.  Experts attribute the increase to
a higher seasonal demand for making jam. (Interfax News Agency,
Food and Agriculture Report, p. 3, August 19-26, 1994)

Although Russian regions and Roskhleboprodukt agreed earlier to
sell grain at 217,000 rubles per ton, nobody seems to be buying
at that price.  President Yeltsin announced that the government
would offer only 160,000-170,000 rubles per average ton of grain.
Farmers began storing their grain at threshing floors instead of
at what are mostly state-owned granaries in an effort to procure
better prices.  Russian farmers had harvested 31 million tons of
grain at the beginning of this week.  This compares with 49
million tons at the same time last year. (Interfax News Agency,
Food and Agriculture Report, p. 6, August 19-26, 1994)

-A cool June and dry July hindered root development in Russian
sugar beets.  The cool, dry weather combined with high air and
soil temperatures to dry out fields.  Forecasters said that in
some areas there were less than 30mm of productive moisture in
the first meter of topsoil.  As a result, experts believe Russian
farmers will only harvest 19-21 million tons of sugar beets this
year, compared with 25.5 million tons last year. (Interfax News
and Agriculture Report, p. 9, August 19-26, 1994)

-Although food prices have risen 93% since the beginning of this
year, there has been no increase in prices over the past two
weeks.  This is the first time food prices have not gone up since
market reforms began.  According to official reports, the
standard monthly shopping basket of 19 staple foods cost 70,900
rubles in Moscow and 65,900 rubles in St. Petersburg. (Interfax
News Agency, Food and Agriculture Report, p. 12, August 19-26,
1994)


12-19 August 1994:
-Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zaveryukha continues to
insist that Russia will not have to import grain this year.
Zaveryukha and other Russian officials claim Russia's demand for
grain has decreased considerably over the past three years due to
reduced numbers of cattle and a falling in the consumption of
bread by the general population.  Experts predict Russia will
harvest 90-94 million tons of grain in 1994 compared with 99
million tons in 1993. (Interfax News Agency, Food and Agriculture
Report, p. 2, August 12-19, 1994.)

-Russian importers may begin to buy European chicken legs after
US producers increased prices for drumsticks by roughly 15%.
European chicken legs sell at approximately the same price as US
ones, but in smaller consignments which reduce freight costs.
Chicken drumsticks have become one of Russia's largest imports.
Between January and July, chicken imports were reported at
271,000 tons, worth about $300 million.  US drumsticks currently
account for half of Russia's chicken imports. (Interfax News
Agency, Food and Agriculture Report, p. 9, August 12-19, 1994)

-Experts predict private farmers and gardeners will produce the
bulk of Russia's 1994 potato crop.  Out of the 33-36 million tons
of potato forecasted, kolkhozes and sovkhozes are expected to
produce only 4 million to 4.5 million tons of potatoes.  Russia
needs 35 million tons of potatoes annually, including 18 million
tons for food. (Interfax News Agency, Food and Agriculture
Report, p. 6, August 12-19, 1994)


5-12 August 1994:
-The first edition of "Agribusiness in Russia:  Who's Who" was
published by the Moscow Az Buki publishing house.  The book
contains information on agricultural enterprises, services,
banks, exchanges, scientific and educational institutes, local
organizations of power, and the regional structures of the
Agriculture and Food Ministry.  Publishers expect to update the
information twice a year. (Interfax News Agency, Food and
Agriculture Report, p. 10, August 5-12, 1994)


Areas of Interest:  Moldova

29 August 1994:
-Gale-force winds and heavy rains hit central Moldova on August
26th and 27th, two weeks after similarly destructive weather hit
Northern Moldova.  The weather destroyed part of what remained of
Moldova's crops after a prolonged summer drought and decimated
livestock.  Moldova, which generally exports massive amounts of
agricultural surpluses, will have to import large quantities of
grain and other foodstuffs just to feed its people. The natural
disaster is expected to damage Moldova's already weakened economy
and may derail the government reform programs. (RFE/RL, August
29, 1994)


26 August 1994:

Belarus

Vodka prices will rise 75% in Belarus by August 25th.  This
translates to 5,000 rubles for a half liter bottle.  The average
wage in Belarus in July was 879,999 rubles a month.  The increase
was reported to have caused "popular dissatisfaction." (RFE/RL,
August 26, 1994)


Note:  Please let me know if there is any information on specific
areas of Russian agriculture not covered in the current events
piece that you would like included.