RUSAG-L: Current Events #65

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.


16 September 1995:

-The Washington Post lists the current exchange rate at R4465 per dollar.
(The Washington Post, September 16, 1995).


15 September 1995:
 
-Agrarian Party leader, Mikhail Lapshin, announced that his party will launch
a public campaign and straw poll on private land ownership.  Lapshin said he
expects the poll to show that the Russian public opposes private ownership of
land.  Lapshin's announcement was in response to Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin's recent proposal to hold a referendum on private land ownership.
 (OMRI, No. 180, Part I, September 15, 1995).


14 September 1995:
 
-Muscovite flour mills have begun buying grain at world prices, so bread
prices are expected to increase 40-50 percent by the end of the year.  In
July, consumer prices in Moscow rose 7.3%, contributing to a fall in real
income for Moscow residents.   Sixty-two percent of Muscovites now reportedly
live below the poverty line.  (OMRI, No. 179, Part I, September 14, 1995).


12 September 1995:
 
-On September 11, America's "Kentucky Fried Chicken" joined the ranks of
fast-food restaurants operating in Moscow.  The bad news is that the prices at
the new restaurant are comparable to KFC stores in the US.  Three spicy wings
cost 10,000 rubles or $2.25, no bargain for most Muscovites.  The Russian
store will use frozen American chicken.  Russia is already one of the top
importers of US chicken.  (OMRI, No. 177, Part I, September 12, 1995).


7 September 1995:
 
-The government plans to issue a natural disaster decree for the Kalmykiyan
region, which could provide some financial compensation for drought losses.
Drought has cut the expected grain harvest in half to somewhere around 600,000
tons.  Experts estimate agricultural damage in the region at 17 billion rubles
($3.8 million).  (OMRI, No. 174, Part I, September 7, 1995).


6 September 1995:
 
-Russia's Agrarian Party added its predictions for a low grain harvest this
year.  An official at the Party Congress in Moscow said that, according to APR
calculations, Russian farmers would harvest approximately 60 million tons of
grain.  The official also predicted a further 10 to 12 percent drop in
agricultural production for 1996.  (Jamestown Organization Broadcast, Vol I,
No. 89, September 6, 1995).

-At the Agrarian Party Congress in Moscow, party members called for the
restoration of the Soviet Union and reiterated their position that the land
should belong only to rural workers.  Agrarian Party President, Mikhail
Lapshin, First Deputy Prime Minister in charge of agriculture, Alexander
Zaveryukha, and Agrarian Union Chairman, Vasilii Starodubtsev,  will top the
Agrarian Party's list of candidates for the December elections.  (OMRI, No.
173, Part I, September 6, 1995).


25 August-September 1, 1995:
 
-According to deputy prime minister in charge of agriculture, Alexander
Zaveryukha, Russia will only import around 2 million tons of grain this year,
despite predictions of a low harvest.  Zaveryukha said Russian sugar beet
production would increase by 30 percent and vegetable oil production by 40
percent.  However, Russian livestock production remains dismally low.  Russia
will import 30 percent of the livestock products it needs in the foreseeable
future, and livestock farmers will continue to receive heavy government
subsidies.  The government allocated 222.5 billion rubles to support farmers
last year of which farmers received 170.5 billion rubles.  Next year's budget
has already allocated 314 billion rubles to the farm sector.  (Interfax Food
and Agriculture Report, Vol IV, Issue 35, August 25-September 1, 1995, p. 3)

-According to the Russian Agriculture Ministry, Russia currently has 260,000
private farms that own 12.1 million ha of agricultural land.  This is 5
percent of the total in all types of farming.  Between 1992 and 1994, private
farmers produced only 2% of total agricultural production.  (Interfax Food and
Agriculture Report, Vol IV, No. 35, August 25-September 1, 1995, p. 3)

-The Russian Committee for the Chemical and Petrochemical Industry drafted a
development program which it hopes will lead to an increase in the amount of
mineral fertilizers produced and sold inside Russia.  According to the report,
90% of Russia's farmland needs to be treated with phosphate nutrients and 70%
with potassium nutrients.  If steps are not taken soon, the committee report
claims Russia will lose arable land for good through degradation and
exhaustion.  Farmers are currently applying just 17.2% or 1.45 million tons of
fertilizers.  Production of nitrogen fertilizer fell from 8.6 million tons in
1989 to 4.29 million tons in 1994, and phosphate fertilizers fell from 5.07
million tons to 1.72 million tons.  Likewise, potassium fertilizers fell from
5.36 million tons in 1989 to 2.49 million tons in 1994.  Productions increased
slightly (!7%; 18.2%; and 15.8%, respectively)  in 1995 because of increased
demand inside and outside of Russia.  However, committee experts said Russia
will have to increase application of mineral fertilizers to at least 9.5
million tons by the year 2000 to stop soil exhaustion.  (Interfax Food and
Agriculture Report, Vol IV, No. 35, August 25-September 1, 1995, p. 5).




AREAS OF INTEREST

UKRAINE

25 August-September 1, 1995:
 
-Officials at Ukraine's agriculture ministry say Ukrainian farmers will
harvest between 36 and 37 million tons of grain this year.  Ukraine will be
able to meet the 9-10 million tons for domestic consumption and export around
3 million tons.  Officials say farmers fell short of  the expected 40 million
tons, since some of  the grain perished, because the harvest took too long due
to shortages of fuels and lubricants.  (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report,
Vol IV, No. 53, August 25-September 1, 1995, p. 4).

CZECH REPUBLIC

13 September 1995:
 
-Former head of the Czech Center for Coupon Privatization, Jaroslav Lizner,
went to trial on bribery chargers.  Lizner was arrested in a Prague restaurant
with businessmen interested in buying shares in a dairy.  Lizner was carrying
more than 8.3 million koruny ($320,000), which officials claim was a bribe to
facilitate the share deal.  Lizner says he was acting as a mediator.  He is
the highest Czech government official to face charges of corruption.  (OMRI,
No. 178, Part II, September 13, 1995).


KAZAKHSTAN

8 September 1995:
 
-Specialists at Kazakhstan's Agriculture and Food Ministry are predicting a
harvest of no more than 12-14 million tons of grain this year because of
drought and food shortages.  Kazakhstan only needs between 5 and 7 million
tons for domestic consumption, but traditionally exports large quantities of
grain to neighboring states.  In 1994, Kazakhstan harvested 18 million metric
tons of grain compared to 22 million metric tons in 1993.  (OMRI, No. 175,
Part I, September 8, 1995).


BELARUS

5 September 1995:
 
-In a statement to agricultural officials, Belarus President Lukashenko said
that Belarus would build "market socialism" rather than reform.  He stressed
Belarus' intention to develop its own way, instead of mechanically following
in someone else's footsteps.  Lukashenko's rhetoric reflects his growing
servility toward Russia and his tendency to invoke national development models
as a way of resisting pressures to reform.    (Jamestown Organization Broadcast,
Vol I, No. 88, September 5, 1995).


25 August-September 1, 1995:
 
-Belarus plans to harvest 6 million tons of grain, the same as last year.  By
August 22, farmers had harvested 2.2 million tons of grain and grain legumes,
93% of the total crop area.  A total of 5.351 million tons had been threshed,
which is 5% more than one year ago.  Belarus also expects to buy 500,000 tons
of surplus food grain from the Krasnoyarsk territory in eastern Siberia.
Belarus will buy the grain under  a trade-economic cooperation agreement with
Krasnoyarsk, which also calls for Krasnoyarsk to supply Belarus with iron ore
and sleepers in return for Belarussian tractors and trucks.  (Interfax Food
and Agriculture Report, Vol IV, No. 35, August 25-September 1, 1995, p. 3).


ROMANIA

7 September 1995:
 
-Romanian opposition leaders have challenged the government's handling of
Romania's  bumper wheat crop in 1995 and called for a motion to discuss
government grain policy.  The opposition parties accused the government of
failing to end the state monopoly on grain trading and storage.   In addition,
the opposition complained that the lack of grain credits was destroying
private farming in Romania.  (OMRI, No. 174, Part II, September 7, 1995).