Working trip to Minsk Oblast

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Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko inspected Staryye Dorogi District, Minsk Oblast on 16 August.

The head of state started his working trip with the review of the harvesting and autumn sowing. The president has been keeping track of this matter for quite some time. The Belarusian leader heard out respective reports during his tour to the Shapchitsy-Agro company. The head of state discussed milk production in the company and the country in general.

Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized the importance of good farming practices and proper management of the harvesting effort.

“Oat and barley should have been harvested a long time ago. I have raised this topic for a reason. I warned you that the most important thing during this harvesting season is a good harvesting strategy. We keep talking about harvesting. Journalists (they are not experts in this) have jumped at this topic and inflated it. It is the second stage of harvesting. The first stage dealt with grass harvesting. The second stage involved harvesting of grain crops, which no longer dominates the harvesting agenda anymore, because we reduced area under grain crops and planted more corn and rapeseed. Harvesting spike cereals is not the number-one task now. We still have to harvest vast areas under potatoes and sugar beet. This is what we should focus on, the harvesting of these crops has just started,” the head of state said.

“This is why I have told you about the strategy. Do not wait for good weather. We still have 10-13% of crops to harvest, these is good grain and we need to harvest it properly,” the Belarusian leader said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that this year’s target provides for harvesting more than 9 million tonnes of grain, including corn and rapeseed. “Therefore, spike cereals should be cropped in all cases. If we do it, we will get 7 million tonnes of spike cereals and will have enough bread,” the president said.

He also touched upon preparations for corn harvesting: “Corn is good this year, we cannot lose it. With corn we can reach the target of 9-9.5 million tonnes. We allocated so much farmland for corn for a reason. This year we just have no choice, as we need to replenish our grain reserve. We should take advantage of this opportunity.”

Aleksandr Lukashenko also ordered to purchase up to 1 million tonnes of grain (not some 850,000 tonnes) for the grain reserve. “We should procure one million and put it in the grain reserve. “Some of it will be used to feed people (we do not need that much bread) and the rest will remain in the reserve. Therefore, in the coming days – today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow  - we need to put forth a large amount of effort in order to clear all spike cereals,” the Belarusian leader said.

At the same time, he warned against using machinery at the limit if its capacity. “A harvester should not be driven into a boggy place to be pulled out later by two tractors. Don’t do it. A harvester is worth more than a bag of grain. Wait. Another option is to harvest grain manually as it was practiced in the past. Caterpillar harvesters should be used everywhere, in particular in Vitebsk Oblast,” the head of state said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized the importance of good farming practices. Actually, after inspecting the fields the president assumed that local farmers stick to the farming technology. “If you can do it right, bring local executive officials here and make them do the same. Don't postpone anything for tomorrow. Good farming practices imply that every piece of land is taken good care of, like the area around this farm. You do it to show off. It is good on the one hand and bad on the other. I think you can do it, so do it everywhere!” the president said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko ordered the vice-premier and the minister in charge of agriculture to take these issues under control. “We should not need to talk about good farming practices anymore,” he said.

The president also urged to catch up with the straw harvesting schedule. Straw harvesting was postponed because of the weather.

Another instruction dealt with monitoring the ploughing quality. “We have forgotten how to plough. If a field is not ploughed properly and it has to be leveled by a grader, just do not plough it at all. No seed drill, even a multi-functional one will be able to level this field. I remember the party had very tough requirements to ploughing (and it was absolutely right). We need to pay a lot to farm machinery operators for that, more than for harvesting. Good ploughing reduces sowing costs,” the president added.

“These are not trifles. We need to pay serious attention to that. We have a lot of work ahead. Plan everything properly. If you have to work at night, go ahead and do it. We need to do sowing in time,” the president said.

Agriculture and Food Minister Anatoly Khotko told reporters that nearly 85% of farmland has been cropped in Belarus by now. Some 326,000 hectares of land still has to be cleared. Most of unharvested land is located in Vitebsk Oblast (131,800 hectares) and the least in Brest Oblast (4,200 hectares).