RUSAG-L: Current Events #66


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.


 29 September 1995: 
 
-The current exchange rate is listed at R4508 per dollar.  (The Washington
Post, September 29, 1995).

-In an effort to boost investment in the Kurile Islands, First Deputy
Nationalities Minister Vladimir Kuramin called on foreign firms to invest in
the economic and social development of the Islands over the next year.  The
Kuriles have been the center of a dispute with Japan, and the row is seen as a
brake on  investment in Russia, particularly Japanese.  The Russian government
has developed a 10-year plan to develop the islands centered on building up a
modern fisheries industry.  (Broadcast, The Jamestown Foundation, September
29, 1995).


28 September 1995: 
 
-A source close to Duma Speaker and Agrarian Party member, Ivan Rybkin, told
Interfax that President Boris Yeltsin discussed the possibility of appointing
Rybkin deputy prime minister for foreign policy or foreign minister during his
vacation in Sochi.  Rybkin reportedly declined Yeltsin's offer because he
expects to be speaker in the next Duma or prime minister.  (OMRI, September
28, 1995).

-Russian Border Patrol troops fired on and seized two Japanese fishing boats
that were reportedly poaching octopus two nautical miles inside Russian
territorial waters.  Rear Admiral Sergei Skalinov, chief of staff of the
Russian coast guard service, said the Japanese government encourages such
violations because of Japan's claim on the islands.  One of the captains was
wounded.  (OMRI, September 28, 1995).

-At a UN-sponsored conference on the Aral Sea, Russian Water and Resource
Chairman Nikolai Mikheev stated that the Russian government was ready to
reconsider an earlier project which would have redirected the flow of  the
great Siberian rivers, southward, toward Uzbekistan.  Uzbek President Islam
Karimov lauded Mikheev's announcement, suggesting a statue in his honor if the
project were to be completed.  (OMRI, September 28, 1995).


25 September 1995: 
 
-Alexander Zaveryukha, Deputy Prime Minister of Agriculture, stated his
opposition to the selling of land plots in rural regions during a tour of  the
Volgograd Oblast.  Zaveryukha said long-term land leasing is the most
acceptable form of rural land ownership.  His position contrasts sharply with
that of Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, who called for a referendum on the
Land Code to speed private privatization.  (OMRI, September 25, 1995).

-First Deputy Prime Minister for Foreign Economic Relations, Mikhail Fradkov,
called for an increase in import tariffs on agricultural products in order to
protect domestic producers.  Fradkov argued that Russia's average tariff, at
16 percent, is lower than the European Union countries' tariff of 21 percent.
In contrast, Foreign Economic Relations Minister Oleg Davydov criticized the
government's earlier decision to raise food import tariffs, saying the tariffs
would increase food prices.  (OMRI, September 25, 1995).


15-22 September 1995: 
 
-Agrarian Party leader, Mikhail Lapshin, attacked Prime Minister Viktor
Chernomyrdin's position on holding a national referendum to decide whether or
not Russians should be allowed to freely buy or sell land.  Lapshin argued
that farmers should be able to lease land and bequeath it to their children,
but not to sell land for cash.  He made it clear that the Agrarian Party would
place land rights at the top of its agenda in the forthcoming elections.
(Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, Vol IV, Issue 38, September 15-22,
1995, p. 2).

-Several government officials and departments concerned with agriculture have
asked the government to ensure that farmers apply at least as much fertilizer
to their land as last year (11 kilos of active ingredient per ha of arable
land).  Officials at the Ministry of Agriculture and Food, however, say there
is only enough money to buy 200,000 tons of  the needed 700,000 tons of
fertilizer.  Russian farmers, overall, would have to apply 1.2 million tons of
fertilizer to their land by March 1996 in order to maintain soil fertility.
(Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, Vol IV, Issue 38, September 15-22,
1995, p. 3).

-By September 11, farmers had harvested over 49.7 million tons of grain,
compared to 56.1 million tons at the same time last year.  Harvesting in such
areas as, Tomsk, Amur, Krasnoyarsk, and Primorye has progressed more slowly
than last year.  Scarce machinery in these and other areas continues to lye
idle because farmers lack spare parts and fuels.  However, farmers are plowing
and sowing winter crops at a faster rate than last year.  Unfortunately,
farmers have been forced to sow untreated seed and have applied only 1.3
million tons of fertilizer to 9.1 million ha of winter crops.  (Interfax Food
and Agriculture Report, Vol IV, Issue 38, September 15-22, 1995, pp. 3-4).

-Experts at the Russian Agriculture Ministry are predicting that the average
price of a kilo of bread will reach 4,750 rubles nationally as a result of a
disappointing grain harvest that helped set world prices soaring.  Preliminary
forecasts put the 1995 grain harvest between 67-68 million tons, which means
the Russian government may be forced to import grain at high world prices.
Currently, the government does not even have the money to buy Russian grain
available from the harvest.  According to Leonid Khalad, the official in
charge of the price administration at the Ministry of Agriculture and Food,
someone in the government decided to finance procurement with the loans that
farmers are due to return.  And farmers, who have no trust in the government,
have learned that the government just writes off farm debts it cannot recover.
 Consequently, the government will either have to borrow from commercial banks
to pay for procurement or leave the market to companies that have never traded
in grain, but are interested in making quick money.  (Interfax Food and
Agriculture Report, Vol IV, Issue 38, September 15-22, 1995, p. 6).


8-15 September 1995: 
 
-Vladimir Shcherbak, Russia's first deputy of agriculture, at a conference
organized by America's Citizens Network for Foreign Affairs, said that foreign
investors are steering clear of Russia's farm and food sectors.  No official
figures exist, but the Ministry of Food and Agriculture estimates investments
amount to less than $30 million a year.  Mary Revelt, farm attache at the US
Embassy in Moscow, said huge opportunities exist for investment in
agriculture, but that the Russians need to make foreign investors feel
confident enough to take the risk.  Foreigners invested $1.5 billion in Russia
last year, $4.5 billion over the last five years.  (Interfax Food and
Agriculture Report, Vol IV, Issue 37, September 8-15, 1995, p. 2).



AREAS OF INTEREST


GEORGIA

15-22 September 1995: 
 
-According to officials at the Georgian Ministry of Agriculture, Georgian
farmers labored to produce just 180,000 tons of grain this year, 0.13 tons per
ha.  The record low harvest leaves Georgia more dependent on food aid as
harvesting ends.  Georgia now gets four-fifths of the 800,000 tons of grain it
needs each year from US and European Union aid.  Georgia, which traditionally
cultivates such cash crops as tea, tobacco, and grapes, plans to create a
program aimed at developing cereal farming and boosting grain output by the
year 2005.  (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, Vol IV, Issue 38, September
15-22, 1995, p. 5).


LITHUANIA

15-22 September 1995: 
 
-The Lithuanian government announced it will allow 200,000 tons of duty-free
grain imports to make-up for disappointing procurement.  Farmers have
harvested just 1.9 million tons of grain, short of the 2.2-2.4 million tons
forecast and less than the 2.1 million tons recorded in 1994.  The government
has bought only 227,000 tons of the 403,000 tons of food-quality grain it
planned to procure, and formula feed makers have bought just 25,000 tons of
the 350,000-400,000 tons they need.  Prices for food quality grains closed on
world levels at 400-600 litai or $100-$150 per ton and 400 litai or $100 per
ton for fodder quality grains.  (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, Vol IV,
Issue 38, September 15-22, 1995, p. 5).


KAZAKHSTAN

8-15 September 1995: 
 
-Farmers in Kazakhstan have harvested just 4 million tons of grain from 43
percent of their crop area at yields of  0.4-0.6 tons per ha.  This compares
poorly with yields of 0.85 tons per ha last year.  Ministry of Food and
Agriculture officials expect farmers to harvest just 12 million-14 million
tons this year.  In 1994, Kazakh farmers harvested 18 million tons and 22
million tons in 1993.  Until recently, Kazakhstan has been the former Soviet
Union's main cereals exporter.  (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, Vol IV,
Issue 37, September 8-15, 1995, p. 4).


UZBEKISTAN

28 September 1995: 
 
-Uzbekistan will produce 4 million tons of raw cotton this year, compared with
3.9 million tons of cotton last year.  In 1994, Uzbekistan ranked fourth in
the world as a producer of cotton and third as an exporter.  Cotton fiber
accounted for 76 percent of the country's overall export.  (Broadcast, The
Jamestown Foundation, September 28, 1995).