Nationwide teleconference to discuss harvesting campaign in Belarus

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We need to invest all our efforts in the ongoing harvest campaign, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he hosted a nationwide teleconference on harvest 2019 on 23 July.

“The outlook is good. The forecasts show that the gross yield on every crop will be higher than the last year's. That is why we need to put all-out efforts to harvest all our crops properly. We need to use all our reserves. We need to harvest at least 9.5 million tonnes of coleseed, grain maize, buckwheat and millet. Less is unacceptable,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

Taking part in the teleconference are representatives of the Belarus President Administration, the Council of Ministers, the Agriculture and Food Ministry, the Prosecutor-General’s Office, the Internal Affairs Ministry, the State Control Committee, governors, presidential aides, and deputy chairpersons of the oblast executive committees and Minsk City Hall.

Belarus President said that it is important to make sure that the quality of harvesting and machinery maintenance is good.

Addressing the regional authorities, Aleksandr Lukashenko urged “to pay serious attention to the quality of harvesting”.

“I want you to give serious consideration to the losses. Take this matter under control,” the President told the governors.

According to the most modest estimates, harvesting losses make up half a million tonnes. The President drew attention to central and northern regions where the harvesting of winter rapeseed is still in progress. “Losses are big there,” the President expressed concern. The head of state reminded about the importance of technology compliance.

“Crops should be harvested with minimal losses or even without them if possible,” the head of state underlined.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also urged to restore a 1.5-2 year reserve of grass fodder.

By now around 20% of area under grain and leguminous crops has been cleared. “We should press on with harvesting, so that 60% of land will be cropped by the end of the week,” the head of state said.

Another focal point of the meeting was machinery supply. “As far as the purchase of combine harvesters are concerned, we will come to grips with this matter,” the President said. The head of state recalled the number one task – adequate maintenance of machinery. The matter should be supervised by the police, the State Control Committee and the Prosecutor's Office.

Belarus President spoke highly of the efforts of Mogilev Oblast Governor Leonid Zayats in the agricultural sector as the head of state heard out the governor’s report at a nationwide conference on harvesting.

“You are keeping to our agreements. What you have said in your report was exactly what we had agreed on. This gives hope that you will eventually make a breakthrough in Mogilev Oblast. The most important thing is that you understand what should be done. It is good that you have found the right people [the governor spoke about his personnel policy]. The personnel issue has always been a major concern in Mogilev Oblast. You just need to find  people who are able and willing to work and you need to pay them well,” the President said.

“Problems will arise every now and then. However, people living in the countryside have not lost the habit of working hard,” the head of state noted.

Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized that the ongoing climate change should not be disregarded anywhere in Belarus. “We cannot work as we did 20-30 years ago. However, we stick to traditional practices instead,” the Belarusian leader noted.

The President urged to have a closer look at experimental fields to grow cereal crops in Mogilev Oblast and to utilize the best practices more actively.

Aleksandr Lukashenko asked Vitebsk Oblast Governor Nikolai Sherstnev how  hybrid rye crops are faring. The governor reported that the region has planted hybrid rye for the fifth year. Now the area under this crop is 10,000 hectares. The yield is very high: even with inadequate compliance with the technologies it is still 70-80 centers per hectare.  

The President said that he inspected the hybrid rye fields and was pleased with what he saw. “I was struck by this crop. The heatwave was terrible. The fields planted to hybrid rye were sandy. I was amazed how well hybrid rye fared in our climate. It was amazing,” the President said.

The head of state instructed the authorities of all the regions to pay attention to the crop, learn from the experience of Vitebsk Oblast and, if necessary, expand the areas planted to hybrid rye. “The demand for grain is high and we can always sell the surplus. If we do not need so much rye, we can always sell it. Take a look at this experience and report back to me,” said the President.

Hybrid rye is cultivated on the experimental field of Aleksandriyskoye farm. The head of state regularly visits the company to see the progress in agricultural works.

At a nationwide conference on harvesting Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko unveiled plans to visit Gomel Oblast in the near future to discuss, among other things, agricultural development of this region.

Aleksandr Lukashenko recalled that it was not the first time he urged the regional authorities to revise the structure of cropping area in view of the climate change. “Start planning what you will plant and where. Everything should be done in time,” the President said.

“I will be there in the near future. Get ready, we will discuss these matters,” the head of state said addressing the Gomel Oblast governor. The Belarusian leader said that during the trip to Gomel Oblast he wants to hear about plans for the future rather than about progress with harvesting.

During the nationwide conference, Aleksandr Lukashenko asked about the rapeseed yield in Gomel Oblast. The head of state was told that the yield was 10.7 centners per hectare. “These are losses. If rapeseed does not grow well, stop planting it,” the President said.

“These days there are no loss-making crops in Gomel Oblast, but there is blatant disregard for production discipline and the wrong choice of soil,” Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized.

The yield of grain crops in Gomel Oblast is under 25 centners per hectare. “This is not okay, therefore today we should decide what to do tomorrow. Corn is the only way to replenish the stocks of grain reserves,” the President believes. He added that the supply of protein for cattle and poultry depends on the quality of corn harvesting.

The President said that it is necessary to increase the public grain stock up to 500,000 tonnes by the end of the harvesting season.

“Last year we exhausted all the grain reserves that we had. Nearly nothing is left. Public procurement will be a very sensitive issue this year. Everything we agreed on with peasants should be fulfilled. We should buy grain from them and use some of this grain to replenish the grain stock. This year and next year we should restock the reserves we once had. We need to harvest a million tonnes in order to replenish the grain stock and meet the domestic demand. We will have no shortage of grain crops, as this year the harvest is good. However, it is also desirable to additionally have grain stock [public grain stock] of not just 200,000-300,000, but 500,000 tonnes,” the head of state added.

This amount of grain stock can make up for bad harvest if any, and the extra can be sold  abroad. “This is money, foreign currency. If we have grain reserves, they can be converted into foreign currency. Apart from that, who can guarantee that in a year or two we will not face another drought like last year’s that resulted in a poor harvest? There is no guarantee. Therefore, the grain stock should be replenished,” Aleksandr Lukashenko underlined.

The President also demanded that public procurement of grain should be fulfilled without failure. “Public procurement is a must. There will be no persuading. All [regional executive committees] have signed agreements and received advance payments. Therefore, no complaints will be accepted. A million tonnes is nearly nothing in terms of the entire country. I am convinced that some peasants will be ready to sell even more this year. Most importantly, we should be able to buy this grain from them,” the head of state said.