RUSAG-L: Current Events #67
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
12 October 1995:
-The current exchange rate is listed at R4499 per dollar. (The Washington
Post, October 12, 1995)
-According to Viktor Kudriavyi, the first deputy head of Russia's Single Power
Engineering System, most of Russia's power generating units have "almost no
fuel reserves and are on the brink of shutdown." The situation is
particularly serious in the outlying regions in central Russia. Factions from
the Agrarian Party, New Regional Policy, and Russia's Women have proposed a
bill demanding that the government establish a list of enterprises entitled to
uninterrupted power supply. The bill also proposes that the government take
over debts to fuel and power suppliers, incurred by the Defense Ministry and
its units, collective farms, and other "socially important sectors of the
economy." The draft law passed the Duma on its first reading. (Monitor, Vol
I, No. 114, October 12, 1995)
-President Boris Yeltsin met with Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin and other
members of Our Home Is Russia and assigned bloc leaders the task of getting a
democratic majority for the Duma. Yeltsin said he though the Communists and
the Agrarians posed the biggest challenge in the elections. The meeting also
served to dampen rumors that a rift exist between Yeltsin and Chernomyrdin.
(OMRI, No. 199, Part I, October 12, 1995)
11 October 1995:
-First Deputy Minister of Agriculture Vladimir Shcherbak announced that
commercial banks are set to loan the government as much as 3 trillion rubles
for grain purchases. Shcherbak said the Ministry plans to buy as much as 7.2
million tons of grain. Although the bulk of the grain will come from domestic
suppliers, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zaveryukha said some of the grain
may come from Canada, especially grain earmarked for the Pacific and maritime
regions. So far, the Ministry has received only 1 trillion rubles from the
banks. (Monitor, Vol I, No. 113, October 11, 1995).
10 October 1995:
-Early statistics from the Russian Agriculture Ministry indicate Russian
farmers have harvested 60.8 million tons of grain from 42 million ha of land
or 85 percent of the crop area. Russian farmers had also harvested 73 percent
of the sugar beet crop, producing 13 million tons of beets, 4 million tons
more than in the same period last year. Sunflower seed production also
increased by 740,000 tons to 2.1 million tons of seeds. (OMRI, No. 197, Part
I, October 10, 1995).
6 October 1995:
-According to Russia's Economic Minister Yevgenii Yasin, the government will
try to prevent any substantial increases in bread prices. Deputy Prime
Minister of Agriculture Alexander Zaveryukha had announced earlier that bread
prices might rise to 5,000 rubles a loaf by the end of the year because of the
poor harvest. A big jump in bread prices at the end of the year could boost
support for Yeltsin's opponents in the parliamentary elections. (OMRI, No.
195, Part I, October 6, 1995).
5 October 1995:
- Bashkorstostan's President Murtaza Rakhimov announced that he opposes the
buying and selling of land. Rakhimov said Russian citizens, particularly
rural dwellers, had been raised with a psychology of "hatred" for more
successful neighbors. He also argued that the living conditions on Russia's
kolkohozy and sovkhozy were comparable to those on farms in the West.
Rakhimov said that, despite his opposition to the government's land reform, he
would vote for Chernomyrdin's political party for the "sake of stability."
(OMRI, No. 194, Part I, October 5, 1995).
4 October 1995:
-During his trip to Canada, Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Zaveryukha said
Russia would have trouble supplementing its grain shortages because of a lack
of cash to pay for imports. Earlier this week, reacting to Russia's grain
situation, the European Community's Farm Commissioner, Franz Fischler
announced that the EU had only limited amounts of grain available to meet
Russia's grain needs. (Monitor, Vol. I, No. 109, October 4, 1995).
29 September-October 6, 1995:
-Nikolai Mikheyev, chairman of the Russian Committee for Water Resources
refuted an earlier report suggesting that the Russian government was
interested in revitalizing the Siberian River Water Project. The Siberian
Project was designed by the Soviets in the 1970s and 1980s to divert the flow
of several Siberian rivers southward toward Uzbekistan. Mikheyev said
diverting rivers to the Aral Sea now would not do much good anyway. Water
levels stabilized in 1993 after falling 16 meters but began to fall again
after the 1994 drought. Mikheyev told Interfax that Russia would be willing,
however, to provide some drinking water to Central Asian countries which could
be needed within 10-20 years. (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, Vol IV,
Issue 40, September 29-October 6, 1995).
-Minister of Agriculture Alexander Nazarchuk told a recent press conference
that Russian agricultural production fell by 10 percent this year, not the
predicted 6-8 percent. Meat is expected to fall 12 percent this year; milk
16 percent; eggs 9-10 percent, and wool 14 percent. Nazarchuk blamed the low
production on underfinancing. In the first eight months of 1995, farmers
received only 4.7 trillion rubles of the designated 9.2 trillion rubles.
Nazarchuk argued that the only way to improve the farm situation is to go back
to the old system of farm credits. (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, Vol
IV, Issue 40, September 29-October 6, 1995).
-Under a development program approved by the government, Russia will invest 79
trillion rubles in its forest-product industry between 1995-2005. Russian
First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets said the program is needed to
revitalize the industry, which has seen output drop between one-half and
two-thirds. Many forest-product companies have not paid wages for the last
three to six months, and they owe their creditors trillions of rubles.
Soskovets said the government would pay for 20 percent of the bill, and the
rest of the money would come from extrabudgetary sources. Russian
forest-product companies acquired $250 million in foreign investment in the
first half of 1995 and raised money by selling their shares at investment
tenders. (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, Vol IV, Issue 40, September
29-October 6, 1995).
-Ivan Gridasov, the official in charge of crops at the Russian Ministry of
Agriculture and Food told Interfax that the government has bought only 538,000
tons of grain this year. (The Russian government is responsible for feeding
the army, the police, and the people of the remote Arctic north). Gridasov
blamed the low procurement on cash shortages and poor grain quality. Corn
bugs damaged between 5 and 28 percent of the grain in the Rostov region and
the Krasnodar and Stavropol territories. Experts claim only 44 percent of the
Krasnodar grain is of flour-milling quality. The Ministry is expected to make
up for poor southern grain quality by purchasing grain from Central Russia,
the Volga-Vyatka and the Central Black Earth regions, and Western Siberia
where there is a lot of high-grade and strong wheat this year. (Interfax Food
and Agriculture Report, Vol IV, Issue 40, September 29-October 6, 1995).
AREAS OF INTEREST
12 October 1995:
-Tajik President Imomali Rakhmonov expressed disappointed in the country's
progress with agricultural reforms. The Tajik government has already freed
prices for agricultural products, abolished export licenses, and now gives
farmers the right to sell as much as 30 percent of their cotton crops.
Rakhmonov has promised to further stimulate reforms by granting farmers 50,000
hectares of land for individual use. (OMRI, No. 199, Part I, October 12, 1995)
29 September -October 6, 1995:
-By the beginning of October, Ukrainian farmers had harvested 29.1 million
tons of grain, 3.6 million tons less than at the same time last year. Yields
have averaged 2.6 tons per hectare. 14.9 percent of the sugar beet areas had
been harvested, and yields had grown from 19.2 tons per ha last year to 21.7
tons per ha. Farmers had gathered 2.8 million ha, or 67.4 percent, of their
maize, including 79,200 ha, or 7.7 percent, of grain maize. Procurement is
running at 46 percent of target compared with 73 percent in 1994. Farmers in
some regions, such as TransCarpathian and Cherkassy, have refused to sell to
the government. (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, Vol IV, Issue 40,
September 29-October 6, 1995).