RUSAG-L: Current Events #61

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.


20 July 1995:

-The Washington Post lists the current exchange rate at R4531 per
dollar, previous R4549.  (The Washington Post, July 20, 1995).

19 July 1995:

-Rossiiskaya gazeta reported on July 19 that the average cost of
the 19 basic food items reached 204,000 rubles a month ($45).
The largest price increase for goods and commodities was listed
at 1.8% in Russia's central region, while costs rose by 1.1% in
Western Siberia and the Far East.  Russia's general inflation
rate index amounted to 101.4% during the second week of July.
(OMRI, July 19, 1995).

18 July 1995:

-Russia's Agriculture Minister Alexander Nazarchuk says that the
recent increase in customs on imported food will not result in
shortages or a dramatic increase in costs.  He maintains food
prices will stay  within "routine inflationary and seasonal
limits."  (OMRI, July 18, 1995).

17 July 1995:

-According to Moscow's Echo radio, the average Russia spends more
than half his income on food but eats worse than in the past.
The poorest strata of Russia's population are no longer able to
afford even potatoes and bread.  (The Jamestown Monitor, July 17,
1995).

-One of Russia's administrative regions in the Saratovskii
Oblast, Perelyubskom, has refused to allow Armenians,
Azerbaijanis, and other Caucasians and non-Russians to obtain
temporary residence papers.  The administrative region has also
called for resettlement of "southerners" who have no permanent
residence papers.  Local Russians blame the negative attitude
toward the Caucasians on the fact that local peasants are
suffering from a bad harvest and unpaid wages, while a few
Caucasians in the area have prospered at trade.  (OMRI, July 17,
1995).

-The Russian Duma finally passed the Russian Federation Land Code
on its first reading June 14 after three unsuccessful attempts,
once in March and twice in June.  The Duma Agrarian Committee,
dominated by members of the Russian Agrarian Party, prepared the
draft, which provides for extremely severe restrictions on the
ownership of private land.  The Duma will have to pass several
bills connected with the code before it can be implemented, but
the gist of the current draft suggests that the entire process of
agrarian reform in Russia could be threatened.  (OMRI, July 17,
1995).

13 July 1995:

-The National Institute for Agricultural Economics predicts
Moscow will have to purchase at least 10 million tons of grain
this year because of a low harvest brought on by drought and
traditional problems associated with Russian agriculture.  In
addition, Mikhail Tarasovs, an aide to Prime Minister
Chernomyrdin, said he did not expect higher tariffs on imported
foods to improve the situation in Russian agriculture,
particularly in Moscow.  According to a July 11 television
report, Moscow food prices have already shot up, forcing the Duma
to pass a resolution demanding that the tariff hikes be
rescinded.  (The Jamestown Monitor, July 13, 1995).

-Because of the severe drought, the National Institute for
Agricultural Economics expects Russian farmers to harvest only
around 70 million tons of grain this year.  Approximately 25% of
the planted crops have been destroyed by the drought, creating
food and fodder grain shortages, which will also cause a drop in
meat production.  In Ryazan Oblast alone, the drought has already
caused an estimated 260 million rubles ($58 million) worth of
damage.  (OMRI, July 13, 1995).

11, 6,7 July 1995:

-Despite assurances by the IMF's chairman Michael Camdessus,
Russian State Duma deputy Boris Fedorovo does not expect a semi-
fixed ruble to dollar rate to help stabilize the economy.  He
said he expects the dollar to cost between 6,000 and 7,000 rubles
by the end of the year.  The Russian government restricted the
float of the ruble against the dollar on July 5 to a ceiling of
4,300 rubles and a floor of 4,900 rubles.  Prime Minister
Chernomyrdin said the government does not want the ruble to stay
too high lest it hurt Russian exporters.  (OMRI, July 6, 11 and
the Jamestown Monitor, July 7, 1995).

7-14 July 1995:

-Russian farmers sowed only 55 million hectares of grain crops
this year, compared with 57.4 million hectares in 1994.  The
grain-growing area has shrunk by  23 to 24 million ha since 1977,
and experts are predicting that, by the beginning of the harvest,
grain areas in Russia will shrink by another 1.5 to 2 million ha.
The shrinking grain areas and this year's severe drought have
reduced predictions of the 1995 grain harvest to approximately 70
million tons.  Russia harvested 81.3 million tons in 1994; 99
million tons in 1993, and 106.8 million tons in 1992.  (Interfax
Food and Agriculture Report, Vol. IV, Issue 28, July 7-14, 1995,
p. 2)

30 June-July 7, 1995:

-According to Russian Agriculture Minister Alexander Nazarchuk,
Russian farmers have already begun harvesting in southern Russia.
The first 300,000 tons of winter grain crops have been reaped
with an average yield of 2.8-3.3 tons per hectare.  Russian
farmers harvested 102.2 million hectares of agricultural area
this year of which approximately 55 million ha are grain or beans
(including corn).  At least one-fourth of the crops have been hit
by drought.  In addition, the lack of equipment and fuel and
lubricant problems have added to the Russian farmers' woes.
Officials say the number of harvesting combines has fallen to
300,000 units in 1995 against a demand for 500,000 units.  One
repaired combine will be expected to do the harvesting for 266 ha
in 1995, while the norm is 130 ha.  (Interfax Food and
Agriculture Report, Vol. IV, Issue 28, June 30-July 7, 1995).

-At an international science conference in St. Petersburg,
Agrarian Party chairman Mikhail Lapshin lamented the fall in
Russian agrarian production and placed the blame on the
disruption of state and collective farms and the government's
unwillingness to adequately support the agrarian sector.  He
noted the severe decline in the supply of machinery and the loss
of sowed grain areas.  Lapshin sharply criticized the creation of
private farms, arguing their creation was "in direct conflict
with general world trends toward the enlargement of forms of
agricultural production and firm market regulation."  He also
expressed his opposition to the free sale of land and the rise of
large land owners.  The conference prepared a draft appeal to
Prime Minister Chernomyrdin, asking the government to develop a
program for Russian agriculture that would reintroduce price
parity of agricultural and industrial production, introduce state
regulation of the most important forms of agricultural
production, and "protect Russian agriculture from Western
expansion of the food market."  (Interfax Food and Agriculture
Report, Vol. IV, Issue 28, June 30-July 7, 1995, p. 5)

6 July 1995:

-On July 4, the Federation Council debated Russia's continuing
decline in food production.  Russia has fallen from seventh to
36th place in the world in being able to feed its citizens.  One-
third of all Russians are reportedly malnourished, and the
percentages are expected to grow considerably if this year's
harvest is as low as predicted.  (The Jamestown Monitor, July 6,
1995).


AREAS OF INTEREST


MACEDONIA

19 July 1995:
-In a crackdown on corruption, the Macedonian government relieved
several senior and low ranking government officials of their
duties.  The crackdown focused on the economic department of the
Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Agriculture.  Ministry of
Agriculture officials are suspected of illegally issuing import
permits for pesticides.  (OMRI, July 19, 1995).

11 July 1995:
-Heavy rains and storms with subsequent flooding have caused
millions of dollars worth of damage in southeastern Macedonia.
Two-thirds of the crops were destroyed in the heavily hit regions
of Kavadarci and Negotino.  (OMRI, July 11, 1995).

UKRAINE

18 July 1995:
-Vasyl Shepa, an agricultural consultant to Ukrainian President
Leonid Kuchma, blames the leftist bloc in parliament for the slow
pace of land reform in Ukraine.  Shepa said the Communists,
Socialists, and many agricultural enterprise managers oppose the
break-up of the loss-making collective and state farms, which
places a heavy financial burden on the state.  He argued their
opposition to privatizing farms, where farmers can freely buy and
sell land, could delay land reform in Ukraine by at least three
years.  (OMRI, July 18, 1995).