RUSAG-L: Current Events #70


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 November 1995: -The Washington Post lists the current exchange rate at R4522 per dollar. (The Washington Post, November 29, 1995)

16 November 1995: -According to the Russian Statistics Committee, over the first 10 months of 1995, output in the clothing, textile, and food industries fell by 41%, 25%, and 9% respectively. Russian manufactured goods lost out to high-quality, competitively priced imports. However, investment has increased 24% and exports have risen 14%. (OMRI, Vol. I, No. 3, November 16, 1995).

-On November 10, Russia received a $530 million tranche from the International Monetary Fund. The IMF granted the loan after IMF officials in Moscow decided that Russia's market reforms were on track. In addition, the IMF and Russia are negotiating a three-year loan worth between $9-$18 billion. (OMRI, Economic Digest, Vol. I, No. 3, November 16, 1995).

-Russia will also receive much needed funds from the World Bank. The World Bank has earmarked $4.631 billion in loans to Russia, of which $240 million have been set aside for agricultural reform. Sources said the actual disbursement of loans has been slowed because of internal problems in Russia. (OMRI, Economic Digest, Vol. I, No. 3, November 16, 1995).

-The State Duma approved a draft of the 1996 budget on November 15 by a fairly wide margin, 237 to 77, raising hopes that the budgetary process would not fall prey to pre-election political maneuvering. The Duma failed to pass the draft the previous day, but agrarian deputies changed their vote after First Deputy Prime Minister Anatolii Chubais promised to find an additional $1.1 billion in subsidies for agriculture, defense, and social spending. (OMRI, No. 224, Part I, November 16, 1995).

14 November 1995: -The Central Election Committee determined the order of parties listed on the ballot for the December 17 parliamentary elections by a random drawing. Chernomyrdin's, "Our Home is Russia," will be listed in position 17, Zyuganov's party, the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, (KPRF), at 25, and the Agrarian Party in position 41. There were 42 parties listed. (OMRI, Special Report: Russian Election Survey, No. 6, November 14, 1995).

-On the same day as the December 17 parliamentary election, the Bashkortostan Republic will hold a referendum on the private ownership of land. Rakhimov, the president of Bashkortostan, opposes Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin's land privatization plans, but supports Chernomyrdin's bloc "Our Home is Russia." Officials expect the old directors of kolkhozes and sovkhozes to strongly influence the outcome of the voting. Nonetheless, Russia's constitution already guarantees citizens and associations the right to private ownership of land. (OMRI, Special Report: Russian Election Survey, No. 6, November 14, 1995).

17-24 November 1995: -The State Duma called on the Russian government to fix the price of bread before the next harvest. The motion, proposed by the Agrarian Party of Russia, criticized the government for having bought just over 5 million tons of the 28 million tons of wheat harvested by farmers. Agrarians argued that farmers were not responsible for the hike in grain prices and urged the government to decide how much grain should cost. The motion suggested the government had abandoned the grain market and allowed speculators to buy up grains inexpensively so they could dictate their own prices later. Georgy Zelinsky, the director of Russia's National Grain Institute, welcomed the news, saying the government needed to act to support farmers in order to stabilize and civilize the market. The government will discuss grain policy at a conference scheduled in Moscow in December. (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, Vol IV, Issue 47, November 17-24, 1995).

-The State Duma failed to pass the latest land code at its second reading. The State Duma had passed the land code earlier, July 14, but submitted 1,288 amendments to the agrarian committee for consideration. It is now up to the agrarian committee to rewrite the code which will now be carried over to the next State Duma. (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, Vol IV, Issue 47, November 14-27, 1995).

3-10 November 1995: -Russian farm journalists met outside Moscow to discuss the closure of rural papers and the disappearance of rural television and radio programs. According to delegates, only one national program devoted to farm issues remains. This news vacuum is particularly dangerous as parliamentary and presidential elections loom close. Approximately one-third of Russia's population is rural and has been traditionally politically active. (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, Vol. IV, Issue 45, November 3-10, 1995).

-Commercial banks have agreed to lend the Russian government 2 of the 3 trillion rubles that it sought to pay for grain procurement, one of the largest private credits in Russian history. In addition, Alexander Kalinin, the cabinet official in charge of farming, said the government was also looking at a 2 trillion ruble bill of exchange scheme drafted by Agroprombank to pay for procurements as well. So far, the government has only bought one-eighth of its procurement target of 8.6 million tons. Kalinin also emphasized that the government, has not and would not, seek any international credits to finance imports. (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, Vol IV, Issue 45, November 3-10, 1995).

-Nikolai Komov, chairman of the Russian Land Committee for Land Resources and Use, released his book "Land Relations and Use in Russia" last week. In the book, Komov argued that Russians were just realizing that land was part of their national heritage and should never be touched. He said the basis of land relations should be the lease and that the government should manage and regulate the land market. There are 220 million ha of farmland in Russia of which 132 million ha is arable. Collectives and individuals own 170 million ha and 30 million ha respectively. (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, Vol IV, Issue 45, November 3-10, 1995).

-The local division of AKKOR, the private farmers association, in the Rostov region has begun to mill its own flour and make its own bread. AKKOR representatives ordered the equipment for the bakeries and mills using loans from the regional administration. Because of the heavy cost of borrowing, the private farmers are being forced to pass on the cost to consumers and have asked the regional administration to make the loans interest-free. To date, the private farmers have built 30 mills and 30 bakeries and say another 100 bakeries and 30 mills are due to go into operation by the end of the year. (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, Vol IV, Issue 45, November 3-10, 1995).

AREAS OF INTEREST

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.

BULGARIA

28 November 1995:

-Bulgaria and Western media report that the Bulgarian government has banned the export of grain this year, despite an above-average harvest of 3.5 million tons. Officials say the government banned the export of wheat, rye, and hops until September 30, 1996. Bulgaria's Prime Minister Zhan Videnov blamed the shortage on speculators. Some 550,000 tons of corn will have to be imported this year in order to secure fodder supplies. The government controls approximately 40% of the grain supplies. (OMRI, No. 230, Part II, November 28, 1995). GEORGIA

22 November 1995:

-According to the Gruzchay, Georgia's state tea conglomerate, Russia and other CIS countries have threatened to stop importing Georgian tea, unless the quality of the tea improves. With privatization, tea plantations have resorted to planting less labor-intensive crops, which has caused a substantial decline in the quality of the tea. The Gruzchay, failed to mention, however, that the state's monopoly on tea has been replaced by a competitive environment in which Georgian tea loses in competition with other Western and East Asian varieties. Georgia once provided 90 percent of the tea consumed in the former Soviet Union. (Broadcast, The Jamestown Foundation, Vol I, No. 143, November 22, 1995).

UKRAINE

17 November 1995:

-Ukraine's Parliament vetoed a bill, supported by Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, that provided for private ownership of land. Agriculture Minister Pavlo Haidutsky said Ukrainians feared the dismantling of collective farms would lead to the sorts of decline in agriculture that other East European countries have suffered after the privatization of land. Ukraine harvested approximately 36.5 million tons of grain this year, an improvement over last year's harvest. (OMRI, No. 225, Part II, November 17, 1995).

BELARUS

17-14 November 1995:

-Belarussian farmers harvested 6 million tons of grain this year, down from 6.3 million tons last year. Sugar beet harvesting was up 13% at 1.2 million tons, and potato production increased 4% at 1.3 million tons. Belarussian farmers also met the targeted sowing of 1.151 million ha of winter grain. More importantly, all of the winter grain seed was of first or second class quality. (Interfax Food and Agriculture Report, Vol IV, Issue 47, November 14-27, 1995).