Working trip to Minsk Oblast

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It is imperative to improve discipline in the agricultural sector and to rely mostly on one’s own resources, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said during his working trip to Logoisk District, Minsk Oblast, on 9 April.

“Our mindset is our problem. We, agrarians, nag that we are having a hard time. Dvornik [deputy premier] is receptive and understanding. He believes that you need help. He comes to me and starts convincing me. I also start thinking that they need help. After that someone sits and rubs his hands and chuckles thinking that he made other people give him what he wanted. It is time to put an end to this absurd situation,” the President underlined.

Aleksandr Lukashenko wanted to know about development prospects and operational efficiency of local agricultural companies. He was particularly interested in poorly performing and loss-making enterprises that should be put into shape. Belarus has experience of transferring underperforming companies under the patronage of big companies and organizations. The President’s working trip to Logoisk District started with one of such companies (Logoisky branch of Belorusneft-Minskoblnefteprodukt).

According to the President, virtually each district has one or two underperforming or loss-making companies. It takes much time and effort to get them into a good condition. However if local authorities try to rectify the situation on their own, efforts are often futile. It is not even about significant resources that big companies need to invest in the agricultural enterprises they are put in charge of. It is, first and foremost, about expertise and knowledge, good managerial techniques, and advanced farming technologies. “I think some industry giants, like MTZ and Belorusneft, should take on more collective farms. They have people, some resources, technology and absolutely different approaches. They will be able to bring these companies into shape faster. However, I want to see how they are managing the collective farms that were transferred to them before. Belorusneft seems to be doing well. This enterprise is one of the best,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The President does not mind if private businesses get more actively involved. He underlined that cooperation with the private sector is only possible provided it works well on the ground. Facilities that they manage can subsequently be transferred into their ownership.

The matter was also discussed as the President toured a cattle breeding facility of the Gaina enterprise managed by Minsk Tractor Works and the vehicle pool of the Ostroshitsy agricultural company under the patronage of Minsk Bread Baking Combine. Apart from discussing some practical matters and performance indicators, the President reiterated the need to expand the practice of putting industry giants in charge of poorly performing companies. For example, in order to increase the profitability of milk production at Gaina, it is necessary to produce more grain, therefore, additional farmland is needed. “I am not saying that we need big money from you. We need good management and order. I want to give you at least one collective farm, if you can handle it. If not, you don’t have to take it on. Some are still underloaded,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said addressing MTZ Director General Fyodor Domotenko.

The President emphasized that it is necessary to conduct an audit of loss-making agricultural companies before they will be suggested to big companies.

During the working trip to Logoisk District, Aleksandr Lukashenko was briefed on the progress with sowing. Deputy Premier Vladimir Dvornik informed the head of state about the situation with fertilizers. In his words, this year Belarus’ agricultural companies are 17% better supplied with mineral fertilizers than last year. In this regard, Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized that it is important to maintain momentum. The President set a task to increase supplies of mineral fertilizers next year by 10% over 2019. “We should not lose momentum. We should stay on the growth track. We need to try hard to increase it by 10%. We understand who should be responsible for that. The first deputy premier and the premier sit and count money. It is necessary to get involved and find money instead of shrugging shoulders saying that it is impossible,” he said.

The President urged to use as many organic fertilizers as possible in addition to mineral fertilizers, in particular if the latter are in short supply. At present this is done in Minsk Oblast. This approach helps secure a good yield, save money on purchasing mineral fertilizers, and maintain order in farms. “It is necessary to adopt this practice. Everything should be managed well,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko was briefed on the progress to fulfill key social and economic targets in Minsk Oblast. Minsk Oblast Governor Anatoly Isachenko informed that all the targets set for January-March are expected to be fulfilled. “Improvements were reported across all the indicators in comparison with the first quarter of last year,” the governor said.

The head of state saw new models of agricultural machinery. Aleksandr Lukashenko was particularly interested in MTZ electric drive tractors. Such a tractor is fitted not only with a traditional diesel engine, but also with electric transmission, which helps save fuel. The President ordered to study the capacities of this tractor and its prospects in greater detail. He also set a task to analyze if it is possible to start manufacturing spare parts, components and assembly units that are still imported. “We need to consider it. If no task is set, nothing will be done. I have learned this lesson multiple times in this country. I often cite Polonez [multiple-launch rocket system] as an example. We have done it. We can do everything. We just need to get on with it,” the head of state said.

The President suggested using his subsidiary plot as a trial site for the new tractor.