Ceremony to honor best workers of agricultural industry

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Belarus cherishes a beautiful tradition to celebrate harvest festivals, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said at the ceremony held on 9 February to award the best workers of the agricultural industry.

“For many years we have been summing up the results of farmers’ work at the Dazhynki harvest festival. The format of this event has changed, but it is still very important and pragmatic. We used to award the best farmers. Since ancient times they have been the main breadwinners for the nation. Therefore, they have been the only heroes of such events until today. And we will cherish this beautiful tradition to celebrate harvest festivals in the future,” the President said. “Now it is time to expand the range of participants and hold more large-scale events to sum up the results of work in the agricultural industry. February was chosen for a reason. The performance of the industry is already known by this time. And it is also necessary to prepare for the spring sowing campaign.”

Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized that only farmers know the true value of this work. Despite farmers are now actively using cutting-edge industrial and scientific achievements of the civilization, their work remains very difficult and responsible. “There are no holidays and days off during the harvest campaign. Farmers give all their power and energy to the soil. The energy and power cannot be measured by the length of the day or fatigue. Work on the soil is a real test for everybody. It requires a lot of attention, the soil will give more to those who are taking care of it,” he remarked.

“A person who grew up in the country, in the surroundings of fields, forests and lakes, knows that nature always fills people with power and energy. And it does not mean where they live as adults because they carry this connection through the entire life. The Homeland stays in people’s hearts forever,” the head of state added.

Aleksandr Lukashenko announced the decision to declare 2018 as the Year of Native Land in Belarus. The decision was prompted by thoughts about the importance of native land for every person, the head of state clarified. “Native land can be different. For some people, these words mean a hometown, a street, or a small community, a village where they spent the best years of their childhood. For others, this is a piece of wild nature pleasing the eye and filling with comfort. Belarus itself has become a native land for those who left it to seek their fortunes in other countries,” Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked.

It is time for everyone to remember their roots, the place that keeps a part of their souls, and pay due respect to this piece of land. “Such support should come from the bottom of the heart. It can be material, creative, enlightening – it depends on the person, his or her possibilities, imagination, and commitment. The time has come to show your worth and etch your name into the history of your native land,” the Belarusian leader stated.

Belarus is a beautiful country with clean comfortable cities, well-kept agricultural lands, and rich nature. “The state has done a lot in this field and will do more. The sky is the limit. You will always find where to put your efforts. Belarus is our common home, and it is in our interest to make it comfortable so that it becomes an example to follow. Let us show that we are true careful owners of our land. We are many, and this is why if every citizen makes a small contribution, our country will become even better,” the President stated.

It is necessary to step up efforts to make the life in rural areas more attractive for young people, the President said. “Our life is very dynamic. Robots and biotechnologies are applied in the agricultural industry. This rhythm of work is very suitable for young people. The attraction of young people to rural areas is one of the crucial issues today. And it should be solved both in rural and urban areas. I think that in order to raise the efficiency of these efforts it is essential, first of all, to take an objective look at the things that complicate life in villages,” the Belarusian leader said.

He remarked that Belarus has drawn serious attention to this issue, has given a new lease of life to about 1,500 villages by turning them into agrotowns. “The future will be shaped around and in these agrotowns,” the head of state stressed. “We need to try to walk in farmers’ shoes to understand what we have to do to improve conditions for their work, life and recreation. It is also essential to think how we can attract young people to rural areas. What shall we do to encourage modern, active, well-educated people to stay in small towns and villages, to work and live there,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

In his words, the country still has to do a lot to make the life in rural areas more comfortable and interesting. The President stressed that beautiful and clean villages and towns, the availability of all amenities of the civilized world are the indicators of the level of culture of the whole nation. “And it does not matter who will work and live in villages of the future, it does not matter whose native places they are because we all are responsible for them. All these places are part of Belarus, part of our common home,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The head of state emphasized that this topic should be a priority in 2018 which was announced the Year of Native Land in Belarus. “There is a goal, there are priorities of work, concrete objects for creative and other activities. Therefore, there should be results! And the results of the previous year have already become a good reason for the opening of a big nationwide event to celebrate the achievements of farmers. I hope that from now on we will have a new tradition to honor our farmers,” the Belarusian leader concluded.

“Today, in this hall, we have gathered the people who devote all their energies to the land, by virtue of their profession or vocation. I want to sincerely thank all on behalf of the Belarusian people for the hard day-to-day work. All of you know that there is no easy bread. The past year was good for farmers, although the climatic conditions were difficult. However the weather often tests our farmers in our country. And again, you provided the country with bread and surpassed last year's results. For this we thank you deeply,” the head of state noted.

The President addressed special words of thanks to the harvest leaders. The highest yield was reported by OAO Gastellovskoye, Minsk District (almost 100 centners/ha). The Kremko and Svisloch agricultural production cooperatives of Grodno District had the yield of over 96 centners per hectare.

The livestock industry also had some achievements last year. For the first time in the country’s history, the average annual yield of milk reached 5,000kg. However, many farms beat this result long ago. The leaders are Molodovo-Agro (Ivanovo District), Viteks (Uzda District), Agrokombinat Snov (Nesvizh District) and Larinovka (Orsha District). They produce over 10,000kg of milk per cow per year.

“All this contributes to the solid raw material base for the processing industry. In 2017 the food production rose by more than 3%. This is a good addition to the high level that we already had. The leading regions are Brest, Minsk and Grodno accounting for over 60% of this volume,” the President said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko believes that it was important to solve the problem with harvest storage. The country has built enough vegetable storage facilities, thanks to which organic fresh fruits and vegetables are now available in retail almost till the new harvest season.

The head of state stressed that there is a need to fix the problem with feed storage facilities. “We need good facilities. The decision was made, and it should be fulfilled,” the President said. In his view, it should lead to very good results.

“Belarus is ranked in the first group of countries with a high level of food security. This is the opinion of the international experts of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization,” the head of state said. “The per capita production of food in Belarus meets the level of the developed countries and exceeds the CIS countries across many indicators,” he added.

According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, while meeting the needs of the domestic market, Belarusian enterprises retain their export positions both in the post-Soviet space, in certain EU countries, and also across the Arab, Asian, African and Latin American regions. These are more than 60 countries.

According to the President, Belarusian dairy products have become one of the national brands. The country is among the world’s top five dairy exporters. Belarus is the fourth largest exporter of cheese and fifth of skimmed milk powder. Belarus is in the top three in terms of butter trade. Today the national dairy industry produces more than 1,500 descriptions of products which are made exclusively of natural milk.

“We are the only ones in the post-Soviet space that have preserved the GOST standards, and they must be strictly observed,” the head of state said.

Domestic cheese makers have done a great job to substitute the Italian and French brands. Hard, soft, and blue cheesed made in Belarus are on par with its foreign analogues.

Meat products enjoy good reputation for their high quality as well. Belarus has preserved the traditional technologies of manufacturing meat products without using the additives, which extend the shelf-life of products but add nothing in terms of useful properties.

The President also stressed that Belarus is the world’s eighth largest exporter of beef and poultry. The geography of sale covers more than 20 countries.

“The positions that Belarusian producers won on the world’s major food markets are a huge step forward. It is important to preserve them and move forward,” the head of state said. “We produce our own agricultural machinery. This is a huge advantage for the state that is focused on the development of the agrarian sector,” he said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko presented state awards, letters of commendation, and gift certificates to workers of the agricultural industry. Letter of commendation were presented to the workers of the agricultural industry of Brest Oblast and Grodno District, workers of a number of agricultural enterprises, including including SPK Larinovka, Orsha District; OAO Agro-Kolyadichi, Pruzhany District; SPK Svisloch, Grodno District; the municipal agricultural unitary enterprise “Sovkhoz-kominat Zarya”, Mozyr District; OAO Gorodeya, Nesvizh District; OAO Rassvet named after K.P. Orlovsky, Kirovsk District.

“I am sincerely happy for your achievements at work. I hope that you will repeat them and do even better. I hope that the weather conditions will be good, that you will enjoy your work and the generosity of the soil,” he said.