RUSAG-L: Current Events #36

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 Interfax News Agency, Food and Agriculture Report, 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), 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.


30 September 1994:
-The Washington Post lists the current exchange rate at R2596 per dollar. (The
Washington Post, September 30, 1994)


26 September 1994:
-In a letter to the Federal Assembly, the Executive Committee of the Russian
Farmers Party asked the government to adopt a land code to legalize the land
market by this autumn.  Members of the Committee claimed agrarian reform could
not succeed until officials' ended their hold on the land.  The letter also
stated that capital was still not being invested in the agroindustrial complex
but that the black market of land thrived.  The members asked that the only
mediator between the seller and buyer of land be a land bank, not a government
official. (Nexis/Lexis through Mead Data Central, Inc. Tass Telegraph Agency,
September 26, 1994)


15 September 1994:
-According to the Russian Agriculture Ministry, by mid-September, crops had
been harvested in over half of Russian's territory.  Officials put the total
amount of grain at 50 million tons.  Farmers had sold only 300,000 tons to the
federal government and 3 million tons to localities. (Nexis/Lexis through Mead
Data Central, Inc. Tass Telegraph Agency, September 15, 1994)


9-16 September 1994:
-During a late August conference of the Agrarian Party, delegates accused
Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zaveryukha of selling out to government
interests and demanded his resignation.  Zaveryukha, who was elected on the
Agrarian ticket, responded by denouncing party leaders, particularly Mihail
Lapshin, whom he accused of "being self- interested and lusting after power."
Zaveryukha plans to organize another wider, larger agrarian movement that
would include:  fisherman, lumberjacks, and workers from industries. (Interfax
Food and Agriculture Report, September 9-16, 1994, p. 2)

-In an effort to substantiate the economic union formed a year ago, CIS
members have agreed to form an inter-state economic committee.  The agreement
weights a country's voting power on the committee in line with their economic
might.  This arrangement would give Russia 50% of the vote.  Some CIS
governments have stressed the need to eliminate customs barriers before any
economic union can work.  However, according to Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin, Russia is in no hurry to scrap customs duties for CIS trade.
The prime ministers of all CIS countries signed the agreement, except for
Turkmenistan and Azerbaijan. (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, September
9-15, 1994, p. 2)

-US Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy succeeded in placing grain exports at
the top of the agenda when he met with Russian agriculture officials during
his September visit.  Even Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zavryukha, who has
continuously declared that Russia will not import grain this year, admitted
Russia will have to buy some grain.  Russian officials expect to balance those
imports with exports of surplus rye and barley.  No contracts were signed
during Espy's visit but both sides stressed discussions would continue.
(Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, September 9-16, 1994, p. 5)

-According to Leonid Cheshinsky, the president of Roskhleboprodukt, Russia's
semi- privatized grain procurement corporation, Russian farmers may have to
find markets abroad for their grain harvests.  Russian farmers are having
difficulties selling their products to the country's largest food customer-the
Russian state.  Zaveryukha said the government would buy grain at market
prices, whether at home or abroad.  Importing would in fact be cheaper since
the prices asked by Russian farmers top world prices. (Interfax Food and
Agriculture Report, September 9-16, 1994, p.6)

-Grain harvesting is almost over in the North Caucasus and the Central Black
Earth regions.  However, in the Urals and Western Siberia, harvesting is still
well behind schedule.  Farmers in Kurgan regions have only harvested 14% of
their grain area.  If good weather holds out in the Urals and Siberia over the
next three weeks, Russia could harvest the expected 90 million tons of grain.
With a 14 million carry-over from last year, Russia could meet demand without
substantial imports. (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, September 9-16,
1994, p. 5)


Area of Interest:  Georgia

9-16 September 1994:
-On September 15, bread prices in Georgia will be raised from 700 to 200,000
coupons per kilo.  One dollar buys 4 million coupons.    The government also
plans to increase wages, grants, and other pensions.  In addition, the minimum
wage will increase from the current 56,000 coupons to 2.5 million coupons in
September.  Until recently, holding down prices for bread, power, gas, and
consumer goods consumed half of the Georgian government budget.  Although
bread will continue to be rationed in some areas, Georgian leader Eduard
Shevardnadze favors the eventual lifting of all restrictions on bread prices.
Georgian officials predict the country will harvest less than 100,000 tons of
the 1.2 million tons of food grain that it needs.  The government hopes
humanitarian aid will make up for some of the bread shortages. (Interfax Food
and Agriculture Report, September 9-16, 1994, p. 4)


"Cotton"

9-16 September 1994:
-This year's cotton production in Uzbekistan should remain at last year's
level, 4.28 million tons, despite cutbacks in crop area from 1.69 million ha
in 1993 to 1.491 million ha.  The government plans to buy most of this year's
harvest.  The government pays 6.5-8.0 sum for a ton of machine-harvested
cotton and 0.4 sum for a kilo of hand- picked cotton.  Cotton is one of
Uzbekistan's principle exports.  In the first half of 1994, Uzbekistan
exported 306,000 tons to CIS countries.  Russian alone imported 285,000 tons
of cotton fiber, worth about $400 million.  Uzbek officials expect cotton
exports to double by the end of the year. (Interfax Food and Agriculture
Report, September 9-16, 1994, p. 10)

-Azerbaijan has targeted cotton production at 450,000 tons this year from a
total area of 215,000 ha.  This translates to 170,000 tons less than last
year.  According to Azerbaijani minister officials, realizing the targeted
production will depend on whether farmers get paid their wages on time.  The
government has raised procurement prices for cotton to 20 times their 1993
levels. (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, September 9-16, 1994, p. 10)

-The Tajik Ministry of Agriculture says this year's cotton harvest was
officially forecast at 700,000 tons, 100,000 tons less than the government
order for cotton.  However, government officials expect the harvest to be
less, somewhere around 660,000 tons,  because of fertilizer shortages.
Tajikistan produced 523,000 tons in 1993.  In addition, farmers lack
sufficient fuel, lubricants, and cotton harvesters.  Much of the cotton may
have to be picked by hand.  Tajik officials are pushing farmers to bring in
this year's harvest as quickly as possible.  100,000 tons of cotton were left
to rot in the snow last year. (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, September
9-16, 1994, p. 10)