RUSAG-L: Current Events #63
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
22 August 1995:
-The Washington Post lists the current exchange rate at R4412 per dollar.
(The Washington Post, August 22, 1995)
-Duma speaker and Agrarian Party member, Ivan Rybkin, held the first congress
of his new left-of-center party in Moscow on August 21. Rybkin failed to
enlist the support of the Agrarians and the country's labor movement ,whose
members declared Rybkin "too pro-government." Rybkin even had trouble
creating an attractive name for the party. Rybkin's party will simply be
known as "the electoral bloc of Ivan Rybkin." (The Jamestown Monitor, Vol. 1,
No. 79, August 22, 1995)
-Government officials still require a residence permit for Russian citizens to
live in Moscow. A family of three must now pay 18 million rubles ($3,600) to
register themselves in the Russian capital. A special migration center deals
with non-citizens requesting political asylum and refugees. (The Jamestown
Monitor, Vol. 1, No. 79, August 22, 1995)
17 August 1995:
-According to a report in ITAR-TASS, Russian agriculture ministry officials
said this year's grain harvest could drop to as low as 45-50 million tons.
Earlier speculations centered around 80 million tons, compared to last year's
harvest of 81.3 million tons. Meanwhile, USDA officials do not expect Russia
to turn to U.S. suppliers to supplement its grain shortage. In December 1992,
USDA curtailed credit lines to Russia when it defaulted on payments for past
grain purchases, and since then, Russian officials have not made any requests
for grain credits. USDA reports have also expressed skepticism over Russian
officials' low forecasts for this year's harvest. USDA experts predict the
Russians will harvest approximately 70.1 million tons of grain. (OMRI,
No. 160, Part I, August 17, 1995).
11-18 August 1995:
-Alexander Nazarchuk, Russia's minister of agriculture, told a special
agriculture ministry meeting that the farm ministry wanted the government to
support the reintroduction of the Machinery and Tractor Stations (MTS). The
MTS were originally used during Josef Stalin's mass collectivization drive as
the dominant force behind farm mechanization. Nazarchuk argued that Russians
need the MTS because a large percentage of the current combine harvesters
are idle, and farmers lack the necessary parts to repair them. The MTS were
used to provide machinery for three-to-five collectivized farms before
Khrushchev ordered farms to collectivize into larger units and dismantled the
MTS. (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, Vol. IV, Issue 33, pp. 3-4,
August 11-18, 1995).
-Minister of Agriculture, Alexander Nazarchuk, accused Moscow Mayor Luzhkov of
ordering New Zealand butter for the city at a time when Russian farmers were
experiencing a glut of domestically-produced butter. Nazarchuk said the order
came just days after the 5-6 percent tariff increase became effective that
Luzhkov had argued would make imported food too expensive for Muscovites.
Nazarchuk defended the tariffs, saying that the tariff barriers would ensure
fair prices and help create the necessary conditions for a thriving domestic
farm sector. (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, Vol. IV, Issue 33, p. 4,
August 11-18, 1995).
-Despite the introduction of import tariffs on July 1, Russian food inflation
shows signs of slowing. The Russian State Statistical Committee reported that
food prices rose just 4.5 percent in July, the lowest this year. The prices
rose the most for bread and groats because of the dwindling supply of grain
stocks. Committee experts said the trend continued in the first week of
August, when food prices increased just 0.5 percent. On July 1, the
government increased tariffs from 8 percent to 15 percent for meat; from 20 to
25 percent for chicken; from 8 to 20 percent for sausage; from 15 to 20
percent for butter, and from 5 percent to 10 percent for fish. Many officials
thought the tariff barriers would drive food prices up. (Interfax Food and
Agriculture Report, Vol. IV, Issue 33, p. 14, August 11-18, 1995).
-Harvesting is in full swing across most of the Russian Federation. As much
as 70 percent of the land on the Volga River has already been harvested.
Overall, farmers have harvested 29 million tons of grain, compared with just
18.3 million tons at the same time last year. However, yields are down
substantially. As of August 7, yields averaged 1.48 tons per ha, compared
with 2.34 tons per ha and 2.75 tons per ha on the same date in 1994 and in
1993. (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, Vol. IV, Issue 33, p. 11, August
8 August 1995:
-Agrarian Union chairman, Vasilii Starodubtsev's disagreement with Agrarian
Party leader Mikhail Lapshin's procedures for choosing candidates for the
party's electoral list may result in a split in the Agrarian Party. Lapshin
wants the candidates to be chosen by a congress of the Agrarian Party, but
Starodubtsev believes that Lapshin's procedure will overlook the interests of
the Union. Starodubtsev accused Lapshin of using procedures to retain his
position as sole leader of the Agrarians. Lapshin maintains that the
Agrarian Party, in alliance with the Communists, could win as much as 50
percent of the seats in the Duma in this year's parliamentary election.
(OMRI, No. 153, Part I, August 8, 1995).
AREAS OF INTEREST
22 August 1995:
-Ukrainian officials have lowered original estimates of this year's grain
harvest. Petro Sabluk, Deputy Prime Minister in charge of agriculture, said
Ukrainian farmers would probably produce only 37 million tons of grain this
year, 1.5 million tons more than last year. Last year's crop was damaged by
drought, while Sabluk blamed this year's poor harvest on lack of fertilizers,
outdated machinery, and a locust outbreak. Sabluk estimated that one-fifth of
production was lost annually, totally approximately $7 billion. (OMRI, No.
161, Part II, August 22, 1995).
8 August 1995:
-Ukrainian land reform has done little to break up large collective farms or
to transfer ownership from the state to private individuals. The State
Committee on Land Resources in Ukraine announced that the state still
maintains ownership of 84.8 percent of farmland, most of which is still leased
to collective farms. Only 3 percent of farmland was in private hands as of
July 1 this year. President Leonid Kuchma is expected to introduce the second
phase of land reform, creating a mechanism for transferring land on collective
farms to their employees. (OMRI, No. 153, Part II, August 8, 1995).
7 August 1995:
-President Leonid Kuchma appointed Pavlo Haidutsky as Ukraine's new
agriculture minister. Haidutsky previously chaired the State Committee on
Land Resources and is considered the architect of Ukraine's new land reform
program. (OMRI, No. 152, Part II, August 7, 1995).
16 August 1995:
-Member states of the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) met in
Bratislava to discuss decreasing customs tariffs on more than 630 agricultural
and food commodities. The group divided the commodities into three
categories. The first group, which included coffee, cocoa, and tea, is slated
to become duty free by January 1996. The second list, consisting of
commodities such as poultry, milk, hops, and sugar, will have low custom
tariffs. Lastly, commodites, such as milk, pork, and cattle, were listed as
"strategic" and proved more controversial than the other two groups. The
prime ministers of the member states will discuss the proposals at another
meeting scheduled in Brno. (OMRI, No. 159, Part II, August 16, 1995).
15 August 1995:
-Officials in Moldova's breakaway Dniester region announced the introduction
of bread rationing, effective August 24. A ration of the subsidized bread
will costs 500 grams per person per day. Bread will still be available in
private stores but will cost up to three times more than the rationed bread.
The Dniester economy is in poor shape, but the Communists-dominated local
authorities, refuse to introduce market reforms. Staples, such as bread,
remain a luxury enjoyed by few Dniester inhabitants. (OR, No. 158, Part II,
August 15, 1995).