RUSAG-L: Current Events #44

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.


2 November 1994:
-The current exchange rate is listed at R3085 per dollar. (The Washington
Post, November 2, 1994)


1 November 1994:
-Early comments by the new Russian agriculture minister, Aleksandr Nazarchuk,
indicates a more conservative approach to agriculture than his predecessor,
Viktor Khlystun.  Nazarchuk was quoted as saying that he supported state
regulation of the agro-industrial sector.  He has also vowed not to support
any reductions in next year's budget funds for agriculture. (Nexis/Lexis
through Mead Data Central, Inc., The Reuter European Business Report, November
1, 1994)


28 October 1994:
-Just before the no confidence vote on Viktor Chernomyrdin's government on
October 27, President Boris Yeltsin appointed Aleksandr Nazarchuk as the new
Prime Minister of agriculture.  Subsequently, members of the Agrarian Party,
of which Nazarchuk is a member, agreed not to vote against the government.
Nazarchuk replaces Viktor Khlystun who was hospitalized a few weeks ago and
who then resigned his post. (RFE/RL, October 28, 1994)

-Agriculture officials estimate this year's sunflower seed harvest will be
around 2.3 million to 2.5 million tons compared to last year's 2.8 million
tons.  The 1994 potato harvest is expected to approach 35 million tons
compared to 38.1 million tons in 1993.  (Nexis/Lexis through Mead Data
Central, Inc., The Reuter Textline, October 10, 1994)


27 October 1994:
-Russian news agencies reported that Viktor Khlystun resigned from his duties
as agriculture minister for health reasons.  However, Western and Russian
bankers have expressed concern over the recent departure of several top
Russian officials and questioned the reason behind Khlystun's departure.
Khlystun is the third cabinet member to leave the government following this
month's currency debacle.  The other members include Sergei Dubinin, the
acting finance minister, and conservative bank chief, Viktor Gerashchenko.
The bankers questioned Yeltsin's leadership ability and pointed out that the
latest cabinet upheavals could not come at a worst time.  The Russian
government is currently holding crucial negotiations with the IMF on a $4
billion standby loan.  The IMF is lukewarm about further commitments to
Russia.  The Russian government already owes Western creditors $90 billion.
(Nexis/Lexis through Mead Data Central, Inc., The Reuter European Business
Report, October 27, 1994)


21-28 October 1994:
-The State Duma passed a law submitted by the parliament's Agrarian Party
faction which bans federal and regional authorities from using government
money to import foods or agriculture commodities which can be sufficiently
supplied by Russian farmers.  The government will be allowed, however, to
import agriculture goods for remote areas such as the Far North. (Interfax
Food and Agriculture Report, October 21-28, Issue 43, p. 2)

-Despite an increased crop area, Russian farmers will harvest only 2.75-2.8
million tons of oilseeds, about as much as the 3 million tons harvested last
year.  Farmers in the  North Caucasus sowed 50% more land with oilseeds this
year, but the area was hit by devastating drought.  Production of oilseeds
have fallen from a record 4.7 million tons in 1990 to the 3 million tons
harvested last year. (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, October 21-28,
Issue 43, p. 4)

-CIS sugar beet production will fall to 46-50 million tons this year compared
with almost 64 million tons in 1993.  Lower beet production and raw-sugar
imports are expected to create serious supply problems throughout the
Commonwealth states. (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, October 21-28,
Issue 43, p. 6)


14-21 October 1994:
-According to an Agrarian Party deputy, the Russian Agrarian Movement
assembled by Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Zaveryukha and endorsed by Party
chairman Mikhail Lapshin, will lobby the Russian government for "food
autonomy" and protectionism for the country's farmers.  The movement, which
includes fishermen, lumberers, and others associated with agriculture, seeks
to alter the direction of reform. (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report,
October 14-21, Issue 42, p. 4)

-On October 15, Kazakhstan lifted bread price restrictions, pushing prices up
700-900%.  A loaf of white bread which costs 1 tenge now costs 10 tenge.
48.54 tenge is equal to $1.  The Kazakh government will soon lift price
restrictions on rent, gas, and municipal services. (Interfax Food and
Agriculture Report, October 14-21, Issue 42, p. 5)


AREA OF INTEREST:  UKRAINE

        Ukraine's new president, Leonid Kuchma, outlined a broad, radical reform
program in a speech before Ukraine's communist-dominated parliament.  Kuchma
presented a plan to privatize land and overhaul agriculture, which he called
the key to the realization of real reform in Ukraine.  Both steps face strong
opposition in Parliament from communists and some minorities.  However, Kuchma
warned the members of Parliament that he would not let them interfere with his
economic plans, that Parliament could not interfere with the affairs of the
President.  The Ukrainian constitution is unclear on the division of powers
between the President and the Parliament, so in claiming such powers, Kuchma
set himself on a direct collision course with Parliament.  His speech was
interpreted as a direct attack against the communist-dominated Parliament,
which is the political group most opposed to reforms.  (The Financial Times,
October 12, 1994)


-As part of its new economic liberalization drive, the Ukrainian government
lifted price restrictions for most foods except bread.  According to Victor
Kalnik, deputy prime minister of economics, the cost of the basic basket of
consumer goods and services in Ukraine will increase by 110% by the end of the
year. (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, October 21-28, 1994, p. 2)

-Ukrainian farmers will harvest just 30 million tons of sugar beets in 1994.
33.6 million tons were produced in 1993 and 44.3 million in 1990.  Yields are
currently running at just 19.2 tons per hectare, the lowest in 30 years.
Ukraine was the heart of the former Soviet Union's largest sugar belt.
(Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, October 21-28, 1994, p. 9)

-Analysts at the Ukrainian Ministry of Agriculture and Food blame this year's
low grain harvest on bad weather.  Ukraine harvested 37.7 million tons of
grain, well short of the 45.8 million tons in 1993.  Frost destroyed 2 million
hectares of winter wheat this year, but farms also performed badly.  In
addition to fuel and lubricant shortages, farmers only applied 30% as much
fertilizer and plant protection chemicals as needed. (Interfax Food and
Agriculture Report, October 14-21, 1994, p. 3)

-The Ukrainian Ministry of Agriculture and Food reported a 175.400 ton or
20.1% decrease in the production of meat and category-1 by-products.  In
addition, Ukraine's Ukrptltseprom reported that chicken output fell at their
poultry farms by 72%.  The Crimean Republic and the Lugansk, Transcarpathian ,
and Liv regions reported production of butter at 40-45% less than at the same
time last year.  Demand-side factors also pushed output of whole milk products
down by 25.6%.  Lastly, because of severe financial problems, canneries were
forced to cut production by 409.2 million standard cans or 46.2%. (Interfax
Food and Agriculture Report, October 14-21, 1994, p. 6)