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www.respublica.by № 15 (5676) Пятница, 25 января 2013 г.

Time for optimization and enlargements

By Maria DRUK
Time for optimization and enlargements

Belarusian agricultural sector to see significant changes in the coming 2–3 years

The country’s agro-industrial complex is strategically important as its performance is crucial for our food security as well as for considerable inflows of tax from exports to the government budget. Consumers from many countries relish Belarusian foodstuffs, which can be regarded as high appraisal of both manufacturers and the industry. Belarusian Minister of Agriculture and Food Leonid Zayats tells us about the last year’s ups and downs and plans and concerns for the year 2013.

2012 achievements

“I am glad to report that every year agricultural production in our country increases. In the public sector in 2012 milk production amounted to 6.160 thousand tons, livestock and poultry sales totaled 1374.6 thousand tons, egg production totaled 2598 million. Gross harvest of grain at all categories of farms reached 9.2 million tons. This means that major agricultural outputs, primary products and food, as in previous years, exceed the domestic demand.”

Challenges of 2012

“Under globalization of the world economy and increasingly acute problems in world food system, it is almost impossible to avoid the impact of negative trends. Therefore, it is important for the state to keep the purchasing power of the population and the availability of foods to all social groups as well as the balance of supply and demand in the domestic market.

A steady rise in prices for fuel and energy resources and their impact on agricultural production and foods is a feature of the modern world food market. The general trend of price growth, which was particularly apparent in the crisis and post-crisis periods, will continue in the future. At the same time, the level of food prices and the level of food price growth in the domestic market will be determined, as at present, by the general state of the national economy.”

Hopes for 2013

“To improve the economic efficiency of agricultural organizations, almost all areas of activity of the agro-industrial complex will be enhanced beginning from this year. In the near future we have to conduct a full-scale modernization of all spheres of production.

Another priority of the agro-industrial complex development is improvement of its organizational and management structure.

The structure of agricultural production will be optimized, and the branch specialization will be deepened giving priority to cattle breeding, the main commodity branch of the country’s agricultural industry. Cattle breeding accounts for about 60 % of the costs of agricultural production. Pig and poultry production will be further developed.

We intend to optimize the structure of areas under crops introducing zonal systems of crop farming.”

Fears for 2013

“Belarus’ agriculture complex is becoming a subject of the global food market with all the ensuing consequences. If necessary measures in connection with our entry into the Customs Union and, consequently, into the WTO, are not taken timely, the situation will inevitably become more complicated in the short term. At the end of the transition period (2–3 years), Russia will be obliged to sell energy to Belarus at world prices, which will significantly drive up costs of agricultural production.

Thus, over the next 2–3 years the country’s agricultural sector must be considerably modified for efficient performance within a single European and global food markets. The most important task for agricultural producers is to learn within just 2-3 years how to work using the principle of self-financing in the new conditions.

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