Agriculture and Forestry
Agriculture is an important sector of the Belarusian economy that is responsible for the country’s food security and export potential.
The contribution of agriculture to the country’s GDP in 2020 amounted to 6%. As of 1 January 2021, the sector comprised over 1,400 agricultural enterprises and 3,000 farms. More than 266,000 people are employed in agriculture.
Per capita agricultural output in Belarus is on the level with the developed countries and in many aspects surpasses results of the CIS countries. The Belarusian food sector not only fully satisfies the domestic demand for food products, but also is one of the country’s main sources of revenue in foreign currency.
Belarus’ main trading partner is the Russian Federation. Belarus constantly seeks to diversify export and currently exports products to more than 100 countries including all the CIS member states, the countries of the European Union, Asia, Africa, Middle East, South America, and North America. In 2020, Belarus got access to new markets: Morocco, Somalia, Djibouti, Croatia, South Sudan, Cyprus, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Equatorial Guinea, Paraguay, Madagascar, Saint Lucia.
Belarus is among the world’s five leading flax linen manufacturers. In 2020, the country produced 47,800 tonnes of it.
It is among the top ten European countries in terms of some key indicators (forest cover, forest area, and per capita stock of growing wood). Belarus has around one hectare of forest per every resident of the country. The total forest area in Belarus tops 9.6 million hectares.
The country annually plants at least 30,000 hectares of new forests and continues stepping up this work. For example, in 2020, over 39,000 hectares of new forests were planted in the territory under supervision of the Forestry Ministry alone. Planting material is grown in 78 forest nurseries and three specialized greenhouses that use a modern method to grow planting material with a root ball.
Coniferous woods constitute as much as 60% of the total area under forests in Belarus. Deciduous forests account for 40%.
The share of mature forests has soared in Belarus in the past decades. It is explained by natural processes and the policy of the Forestry Ministry to rationalize forest husbandry. Since 1994, the share of mature forests rose by 4.7% to 14.7% in 2019. There has been a boost in timber production as a result. In 2016, Belarusian forestry organizations produced about 20 million cubic meters of timber; in 2020 this output exceeded 25 million cubic meters. Almost a half of this volume was produced by mechanical felling. All this timber is used by Belarusian wood processing organizations.
As of today, about 100,000 people are employed in the forestry industry (according to the preliminary data for 2020). The majority of them are living in rural areas. Over 38,000 people are employed in the system of the Forestry Ministry. Because of their hard work the total area under forests made up a record high of 39.9% in Belarus.