RUSAG-L: Current Events #68
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
28 October 1995:
-The Washington Post lists the current exchange rate at R4504 per dollar.
(The Washington Post, October 28, 1995).
27 October 1995:
-The Union of Private Landowners and the Agrarian Party held congresses in
Moscow on October 27. These two rival political parties claim to represent
the interests of the rural population. The Union of Private Landowners
strongly supports private property with full property rights for farmers. In
contrast, the Agrarian Party mainly represents the interests of agricultural
collectives. The Agrarians support private ownership of small garden plots
but oppose land reform to legalize the buying and selling of large tracts of
farm land. Both congresses hope to attract the support of rural voters in the
December parliamentary elections. (OMRI, No. 210, Part I, October 27, 1995).
26 October 1995:
-Agriculture Minister Vladimir Shchebak told the Interfax News Agency that
Russia might have to import grain in the next few months just to feed the
military. The Russian government's procurement of domestic grain has been
slow and reserves used to feed the military and remote Arctic towns is running
dangerously low. Russia is expected to harvest only 65 million tons of grain
this year, compared to 81.3 million tons in 1994. (OMRI, No. 209, Part I,
October 26, 1995).
25 October 1995:
-Turkmenistan agreed to barter oil for potatoes with Belarus. Turkmenistan
will send Belarus 2 billion cubic meters of gas in exchange for 100,000 tons
of potatoes. Belarus will also supply Turkmenistan with tractors and other
consumer goods in exchange for gas. (OMRI, No. 208, Part I, October 25, 1995).
24 October 1995:
-According to the Agriculture Ministry, the Russian government has purchased
only 617,000 tons of a planned 8.6 million tons of grain from domestic
producers as of October 14. The Russian government stopped financing grain
purchases but has been unable to get commercial banks to fill the void. The
Ministry suggested provincial commercial banks may yet come to the rescue,
but, if they do not, the government may be forced to buy grain on the
international market to supply the army, Interior Ministry, and large cities.
(The Monitor, No. 122, Volume I, October 24, 1995).
23 October 1995:
-Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Shakhrai told journalists that he expects
Russians to vote on a land referendum by March or April of next year.
Shakhrai said the Agrarians and Communists had been "chopping away" at a draft
law on privatization for almost a year and that it was time the Russian people
decided the issue. A majority of Russian farms have been reorganized but
still retain some form of collective organization. (The Monitor, No. 121, Vol
I, October 23, 1995).
-A Segodnya article, published on October 20, suggested the Russian economy is
improving. Figures showed industrial output fell by only 2% in the first nine
months of 1995, compared to 23% in 1994. GDP fell 3%. Metallurgy, chemical,
and petrochemical production rose, while output in light industry and
agriculture fell by 32% and 10-12% respectively. Real income fell by 12%,
although spending increased 16% on consumer durables. (OMRI, No. 206, Part I,
October 23, 1995).
20 October 1995:
-Yakov Urinson, Russia's deputy minister of economics, told a government
meeting that the government is "racking its brains" in an effort to find ways
to buy grain to keep bread prices down. Meanwhile, ITAR-TASS reported that
the price of a ton of grain on the London market is currently $173 per ton and
that the price may go up to as much as $210 by the end of the year because of
low grain output in several countries. (OMRI, No. 205, Part I, October 20,
-Russia's main export to the US is aluminum and its main import is chicken
parts. In the first half of 1995, Russia exported 237,000 tons of aluminum to
the US worth about $470 million and imported 280,000 tons of chicken worth
$233 million. In 1994, Russia exported $3,694 million worth of goods to the
US and imported $2,053 worth of goods. (OMRI, No. 205, Part I, October 20,
19 October 1995:
-According to the president of the Far North and Polar Cities' Union, the
north will soon die if the government does not adopt measures to change its
social and economic situation. In earlier statements, the Federation Council
announced that the northern territories have only received 77% of the oil
supply, 63% of the coal, and 64% of the food allotted to them in the 1995
budget. (OMRI, No. 204, Part I, October 19, 1995).
-Turkmenistan President Niyazov approved a law that would allow foreign
countries to lease state property. Annual rent rates will vary depending on
the quality of the soil, somewhere between $172 and $955 per hectare. As yet
unspecified rates will apply to urban areas. (OMRI, No. 204, Part I, October
13-20 October 1995:
-Deputy Prime Minister in charge of agriculture, Alexander Zaveryukha, told a
Kremlin meeting that President Boris Yeltsin agreed that Russian farmers
needed more government support. Zaveryukha said that he had appraised Yeltsin
of the difficulties facing agriculture and implored him to use his position to
influence government investment in the agriculture sector. Specifically,
Zaveryukha asked the government to help pay for machinery, fertilizers, fuels
and lubricants, and other inputs. He also gave Yeltsin a report on the
private farming program which Zaveryukha claimed had received only 26.1% of
its targeted financing. During the meeting, Zaveryukha also denied rumors
that money had been redirected from the farm budget to pay for other programs.
(Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, Vol IV, Issue 42, October 13-20, 1995).
-According to Nikolai Komov, chairman of the Russian Committee for Land
Resources and Use, over 5 million hectares of Russian farmland is lying idle.
Komov said that over 3.7 million ha of the 5 million ha is on the old state
and collective farms, which still own around 90% of the land. He also claimed
that private farmers make poor use of their land. Komov said private farmers
had left 750,000 ha of land idle this year and failed to work 245,000 ha of
allotments and gardens. In addition, Komov cited rural authorities and
research centers as one of the worst offenders. They let, respectively,
approximately 300,000 ha and over 40,000 ha of land lie idle this year.
(Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, Vol IV, Issue 42, October 13-20, 1995).
-By October 14, Russian farmers had cut 42.3 million ha of cereals, 3.7
million ha less than last year, and thrashed 42.2 million ha or 86% of the
total crop area. According to Ivan Gridasov, an official at the Russian
Ministry of Agriculture and Food, yields had averaged 1.46 tons per ha,
compared with 1.73 tons per ha last year. Gridasov said harvesting had slowed
toward the end of the season because only 30%_40% of the farm machinery was in
working condition. Farmers have also harvested 150,000 ha or 87% of their
flax area, 33,000 tons more than in 1994. By October 19, farmers had produced
2.3 million tons of sunflower seeds, 600,000 more than last year. Potato and
sugar beet production is also up. Gridasov claimed that 57% of all seeds
sowed this fall had been uncertified and that fertilizer had been applied to
just 2 million ha. (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, Vol IV, Issue 42,
October 13-20, 1995).
13 October 1995:
-Russia's Deputy Prime Minister of Agriculture, Alexander Zaveryukha, told
ITAR-TASS news agency that Russia will need to import grains this year to
offset Russia's worst harvest since 1965. Zaveryukha did not indicate exactly
how much grain Russia would need to supplement her harvest but did suggest
that Europe was likely to offer more favorable terms for imports.
(Nexis/Lexis through Mead Data Central, Inc., European Information Service,
Agri Service International, October 13, 1995).
-Vyacheslav Zvolinsky, chairman of the upper house's Committee for Agrarian
Policy, predicted that this year's harvest would meet 65-70 percent of
Russia's grain requirements. Zvolinsky said that Russia would harvest around
65 million tons of grain, but after cleaning, the country would get only 58-60
million tons of grain, cereal, and fodder crops. (Nexis/Lexis through Mead
Data Central, Inc., The British Broadcasting Corporation, October 13, 1995).
-During First Deputy Prime Minister Oleg Soskovets trip to Cuba, Russia agreed
to supply Cuba with 10.5 million tons of oil in return for 4 million tons of
sugar over the next three years. The Russians had already agreed in May of
this year to supply Cuba with 3 million tons of oil in return for 1 million
tons of sugar. Russian farmers produced only 1.7 million tons of sugar from
domestic sugar beet production in 1994. Russians consume more than 4 million
tons of sugar a year. (OMRI, No. 200, Part I, October 13, 1995).
AREAS OF INTEREST
24 October 1995:
-A group of former Albanian land owners have called for the repeal of the 1945
land reform law. The petition was organized by the Right League of Albania
which consists of several right wing parties. The landowners received
financial compensation for their land in 1992. Albania's Constitutional Court
rejected the landowners petition. The petitioners are expected to take their
case to the European Court of Justice. (OMRI, No. 208, Part II, October 24,
24 October 1995:
-The first all-Ukrainian Peasants Assembly met in Kiev on October 21 to demand
that the government fully support Ukraine's agricultural sector. Members of
the Assembly insisted that the government ban land sales and take control of
the economy. Only 2,000 delegates from several regions attended the Assembly.
Participants blamed the low turnout on farm managers who would not allow
employees to attend. Others suggest the low turnout signals a strong degree
of apathy among Ukrainian peasants. (OMRI, No. 207, Part II, October 24,
16 October 1995:
-Kazakhstan's Agriculture Minister, Zhanibek Karibzhanov, told the Interfax
News Agency that Kazakhstan's low grain harvest rules out exports this year.
Kazakhstan produced only 10 million tons of grain this year, its lowest in 30
years. The low Kazakh output, coupled with Russia's lowest harvest in 30
years, could aggravate an already serious grain shortage in the CIS.
Kazakhstan exported 1 million tons of grain to Russia in 1994. (OMRI, No.
201, Part I, October 16, 1995).
PRICES AS OF OCTOBER 9, 1995, IN Rbs/Kg
Moscow---------Beef--13,418; Bread--4,695; Milk--3,685; Butter--19,943;
St. Petersburg--Beef--12,648; Bread--4,283; Milk--2,575; Butter--18,161;
Saratov/Volga--Beef-- 8,175; Bread--4,053; Milk--2,100; Butter--14,583;
Krasnodar------Beef--12,278; Bread--2,950; Milk--2,347; Butter--18,845;
Novosibirsk----Beef--11,100; Bread--3,979; Milk--2,513; Butter--17,897;
Vladivostok----Beef--25,725; Bread--5,523; Milk--6,267; Butter--24,250;
Potato--2.078 (Far East)
(Information on prices taken from Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, Vol
IV, Issue 42, October 13-20, 1995).