Conference to discuss the progress in the harvest campaign

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For Belarusians harvest time is a battle for food security, and the one who is better prepared wins the battle, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko said during a conference call to discuss the harvest progress on 21 July.

This is not the first time that the head of state has convened a meeting on the harvest progress in the form of a large conference call. This format provides an opportunity to see the situation on the ground, all the successes and shortcomings in real time. "Harvest is always the number one issue. In fact, this is the moment of truth and the finish line of the great efforts by the entire agricultural industry during an agricultural year," Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

"In order to ensure our own food security, to make sure that we have ‘bread on our table, as people say, and that processing enterprises are provided with raw materials and livestock - with feed, we need to mobilize now. Harvest time is a battle, if you will. Everything depends on this battle. War is war. The winner is the one who is better prepared, who has used all the resources and fights from dawn to dawn. Today we need to honestly answer the question where we underperform and urgently correct the shortcomings," the president stressed. 

The head of state addressed a number of questions to those responsible for the agricultural industry: what is the situation with harvesting at the moment and what will happen in the future based on this? Are there any unresolved issues, including grain harvesting equipment? What is the condition of grain cleaning and drying complexes?

"We need to engage the production capacities of bakery plants. They must organize the acceptance and processing of grain 24/7," the president instructed. "If there are free storage facilities, they need to be used to store cheap purchased grain." 

Aleksandr Lukashenko also demanded that the state grain procurement order be met in full and expressed confidence that it would be so: "This is our food gold reserve."

Separately, the head of state asked about the availability of labor resources. "Harvesting bread is a nationwide affair. Plans are in place to attract an additional 3,000 machine operators, as many as last year, he said. “I know that many men, especially those who were born in the countryside, specifically take vacations for July and get a job as combine operators in order to earn good extra money for their families (pay for back-to-school expenses, for example). I ask industrial enterprises and the governors to draw up plans on personnel. There should be no shortage of work clothes or hot meals in the field. People need to be fed on time." 

Aleksandr Lukashenko said it is important to observe order and discipline. "The Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Emergencies Ministry should provide protection of fields and people against fires, make sure that harvesting and grain drying equipment is safe," he said. 

The head of state also pointed out the need to provide assistance to those who live in private farmsteads. They have 30,000 hectares planted to grain crops. "Special attention should be paid to elderly and to citizens, villagers living alone. Surplus grain will be purchased by bakeries," he said.

Speaking about the work of the media, Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that harvest leaders are the true heroes of our time: "They deserve that the country be proud of them and look up to them. I see that this work has begun. We need to expand and deepen it." 

"Plan your strength and resources accordingly. The level of organization of work and labor discipline should be top-notch. You see what is happening around," the president noted. "I often remind you: economy is essential for peace and calm.”

"I said it once and reiterate again: it is better to fight in the field than on the front! Is there someone who does not understand this? We need an iron order. With a competent executive an organization (a collective farm, state farm and others) operates efficiently. Personnel is all-important. Otherwise we will continue spending a lot of money, equipment, fertilizers, loans which can otherwise be spent on pensioners, healthcare, education," the head of state said.

"If there is a return, then this is the money well spent. But if there is no return, then what is there to talk about?," the Belarusian leader stressed.  

"I see that a lot of work has been done to make grain stocks. People understand that we need to mobilize today as our future depends on it," the president said. He noted that this year farmers may not reach the targets in terms of some crops. But this is not the reason to be concerned about since in previous, more productive years, we made a sufficient reserve of crops, including grain. "We have one million tonnes of grain in reserve. This is what I have always demanded of you. We must have a reserve. Today we are not concerned about this. We will easily make up for this year’s shortfall. More so, the prices for grain are low today. We need to buy it," the head of state said. 

Aleksandr Lukashenko urged to apply a farmers’ approach to this issue who say ‘stocks never hurt’. It is imperative to have reserves, stocks. We need to look not only around but also internally at our reserves that we can use," the president said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko asked Industry Minister Aleksandr Rogozhnik about the new equipment malfunction cases, as revealed by the regulatory authorities. "I will look into these cases. But I assure you that the equipment has a sufficient reliability margin," the minister replied. In support of his words, he cited an example from a recent business trip to the Russian city of Kemerovo, where he visited a farm using Belarusian agricultural machines. They did not have a single complaint about its work.

In this regard, the president agreed that it is not only the quality of equipment that is important but also the conditions of its operation and maintenance. "The operation and reliability of the equipment depends not only on the equipment, but also on its use and maintenance," he said. “But please look into these cases. There are complaints about the agricultural machinery supplied to local farmers." The quality of equipment sold internationally and domestically should be equally good, the head of state noted.  "Exports to China and other markets are important. But please team up with farm executives and the State Control Committee and take a closer look into these facts [malfunctions] and resolve all the issues," Aleksandr Lukashenko instructed.

During the meeting, Finance Minister Yuri Seliverstov reported on the state of affairs with the payments by agricultural organizations for fuel and other products necessary for the harvest campaign and the timeliness of repayment of loan obligations. "If you’ve borrowed the money, you must repay on time," the president stressed in this regard. "Only then can you come to ask for more money (this is an exception)." 

"This is our position indeed," Yuri Seliverstov said. 

"I address this question to all governors. You have heard the minister's report on funding. Any issues? Is grain harvest paid on time?" the head of state asked. Separately, the president asked Brest Oblast Governor Yuri Shuleiko: "You started harvesting before anyone else. Are there any facts of non-payment for grain deliveries?" 

"There are no such facts," Yuri Shuleiko replied. "Today, acceptance and payment for grain deliveries are going as planned."