Working trip to Mogilev Oblast

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Belarus’ agricultural industry has gone a long and difficult way of development. More than $45 billion has been invested in the industry over the past 10 years, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he met with farmers in the agro-town Alexandria, Shklov District, on 2 May.

The head of state said he was long preparing for this meeting. This meeting was a bit unusual because no experts were sent here to study the situation beforehand. "I wanted to visit my native land, to meet with the people I know, the people who work here, hoping they would be sincere and share with me their vision of the further development of the agricultural industry,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. Therefore, it was no coincidence that this meeting took place during the festive days. It was very important because a big government session would be held soon to discuss the development prospects and reforms in agriculture, he added.

The Belarusian President reminded the meeting participants what the agricultural sector looked like not long ago. There was a lack of funds, and a lack of agricultural products. It turned out later the country could ensure its food security, and sell a decent amount of products abroad, the President noted. Today Belarus is seeking to export $7 billion worth of agricultural products. Back then we were facing the question: "what should we do?" There were many different proposals, including a suggestion to allow land private ownership. "You know my attitude. I was totally against it. Having visited the successful farmers of Shklov District, the people I worked with, whom I know very well I understand that we were absolutely right,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

In his view, if a decision was taken back then to hand out land, today the country would be dealing with dire consequences. Aleksandr Lukashenko said that he sees many negative points of "privatization" in neighboring Russia and even Europe. An important step in the development of the agricultural industry, the President believes, was the fact that Belarus started producing a broad line-up of agricultural equipment ranging from tractors, mounted units to combine harvesters. "Quality remains a serious issue," he said. “Today we pay special attention to it.

Our equipment is efficient, and we have made sure about this in practice. But back then there were many opponents of this idea. Some suggested that all equipment should be purchased from Germany. I think if we went that way, we would have no equipment to harvest grain crops today. We have come a long, difficult way in rural development and invested more than $45 billion in the development of the industry over the last ten years.

According to the President, the time has passed, and today even European guests are envious of the Belarusian farmers because not all farmers there can afford working on such large areas of land. There is very tough competition, and the land is in private ownership. Every private farm is fighting for its land, trying to extract maximum benefits from its piece of land. "I think we made the right decision, and I do not think we need to give up on it,” the head of state said. “At the same time, I took a decision not to interfere with the development of the farmers’ movement. A few years ago there were the restrictions on land use. Today they have been lifted. Today farmers are given farmland that is used inefficiently and this has become a common practice,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.

During the meeting, the farmers talked about the difficulties with purchase of rented assets. According to them, if the buildings and facilities were transferred into their ownership, then the attitude to them would be different. Then they would be willing to invest in their repair and modernization.

The President instructed the government to consider and solve the problems of ownership. “This is not a case where the state must hold on to the assets such as, for example, an old pig farm, which would have been destroyed long ago. I think we need to think through all the issues related to the ownership, and solve them,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.

According to the head of state, having received the assets into ownership, the farmers will be willing to invest, build something new, or repair the old ones. "Let us therefore solve this issue. But we must remember that in the matter of private property we are only at the beginning of the journey. We have to tread very carefully, taking into account the opinion of the society, "said Aleksandr Lukashenko.

It is essential to simplify the accounting system for farmers, the Belarusian President said.

“Within a year we need to test, fine-tune and simplify the accounting system in farm business. Accounting should be, first of all, aimed at exercising control over the payment of taxes,” the head of state said.

In his words, in Soviet times it was necessary to monitor spending, the use of fuel, the efficiency of equipment. “Now it is essential to outline the main priorities and create the simplest accounting system without any restrictions. It is not needed to hire a specialist with higher education and at least a three-year job record if workers without higher education cope with all tasks. Therefore, it is necessary to work out an optimal accounting system by the end of the year,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.