Russia – Prime Minister Vladimir Putin meets with Agriculture Minister Yelena Skrynnik

Post image for Russia – Prime Minister Vladimir Putin meets with Agriculture Minister Yelena Skrynnik

Vladimir Putin: What is the current situation with the harvest?

Yelena Skrynnik: Mr Putin, we have worked for six months, and the overall figures in the context of the state programme show a growth trend: up 0.7% for the entire agriculture sector. There is a marked increase in agricultural production.

As for harvesting, we have harvested 17 million tonnes of grain to date. The yield is 36 tonnes per hectare, which is much better than in 2009, when it was 31 tonnes. It is particularly important that we have planted more potatoes and the potato harvest will be 29% bigger, and 40% bigger for sugar beets. Therefore, the trend for crops is positive and I think that we will reach the forecasted 85-90 million tonnes.

There is also a growth trend in terms of livestock, especially in poultry production. Today it is up 3.8%, or by 169 tonnes. Consequently, we will exceed 400,000 tons by the end of the year. The doctrine of food security, whereby we produce 85% of our own food can already be fulfilled in 2012 with 89%.

Pork production is also growing – the figure of 400,000 tonnes by the end of the year is realistic thanks to the new facilities that will be commissioned. These are, for example, Miratorg, Prioskolye and Cherkizovo – major investment projects that will be completed by the end of the year. They will give us a total of 400,000 tonnes of pork and poultry.

In terms of other figures, such as those for milk, there is a slight decrease because of the drought last year, but commodity milk is growing. This was possible because processors who buy raw milk from agricultural companies are paying stabilised prices of 15 roubles on average. There is a trend – the investment attractiveness of dairy cattle is growing, so commodity milk production is increasing, and I think that we will stabilise the situation by the end of the year.

Vladimir Putin: We have talked about organising harvesting at private farms.

Yelena Skrynnik: Yes, we are doing this, Mr Putin.

Vladimir Putin: Producers and processors should both make sure that prices are fair.

Yelena Skrynnik: Fifteen roubles is a fair price. Last year, it was 13 roubles on average, but thanks to the agreements we signed, we stabilised the situation and this is also due to the support measures already in place in the sector.

Vladimir Putin: And what about the situation with imported milk powder, how are things in that department?

Yelena Skrynnik: We signed an agreement with Belarus, and they supply the volumes agreed. Therefore, we make sure that dry milk is not imported during the milk “bumper crop.” This is a significant help to our agricultural companies. We do not import from other countries because thanks to structured relations with Belarus, our main supplier of milk powder, the situation is stable. And these 15 roubles per litre of raw milk – they certainly help our agricultural producers, so the production of marketable commodity milk is increasing.

Vladimir Putin: Ms Skrynnik, at various meetings with farmers held recently, your colleagues raised the issue of support for various farming activities that are important for different regions’ economies. These include land reclamation, support for sheep farming and primary milk processing for small farms, as well as fruit growing. I asked you to think about where we could find additional resources in order to allocate them to solve these problems.

Yelena Skrynnik: Mr Putin, it is possible to support these sectors with USD 6 billion as part of regional economic programmes, which will be considerable for our small farms and large agricultural holdings, as well as fruit growers.

Vladimir Putin: When can this be organised in such a way that these funds reach the people they are intended for?

Yelena Skrynnik: I think that in the near future we will submit all the documents that need your signature and we can launch these programmes within three months after they are approved in the regions involved.

Vladimir Putin: They can be approved within a month and then these funds can be disbursed through the regions to the agricultural producers.

Yelena Skrynnik: Yes, we will announce this today.

Vladimir Putin: Good, thank you.


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