Belarus' agricultural industry can be reliable source of currency supply

The agricultural industry of Belarus can be a reliable source of foreign currency revenues, Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus Ivan Bambiza said at a joint session of the two chambers of the National Assembly and members of the government of Belarus on 28 May.

Ivan Bambiza reminded that Belarus is moving from subsidized agricultural production to profit-making agribusiness. "The agricultural industry can and should be a reliable supplier of foreign currency. Efficiency and export are the major development priorities of the agricultural industry for the forthcoming five-year period," the Vice-Premier underlined.

Deputy Premier added that the country is busy working on major parameters of agricultural production, which will be affirmed at the All-Belarus Assembly within the framework of the social and economic development program for 2011-2015.

Belarus is drafting a new state programme for the rural area sustainable development through 2015, Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus Ivan Bambiza said in a joint session of the two chambers of the National Assembly and government members on 28 May.

"The country is currently drawing up a new programme for the rural area sustainable development for the next five years. Its concept has already been approved by the government," the Vice Premier stated. The document has been developed jointly with the National Academy of Sciences.

The programme provides efficient mechanisms for intensifying the activity of the agricultural industry, Ivan Bambiza said. The concept is set to address the issues concerning the state, economic and socio-democratic policy as well as the problems of the regional development, i.e the Polesye region, Chernobyl-hit territories.

The programme enshrines tougher economic methods and better private-state partnership. The programme also provides for additional stimuli for business development and initiative, export innovation development.

Also Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus Ivan Bambiza has admitted, that Belarus should reduce the import of potato products to the maximum. "The issue concerning the potato market revival and substitution of the import of potato products should be settled by 2015," the Vice Premier said.

The matter concerns the potato culture innovation development, potato processing with the use of the latest technologies. "It is not good that, with the annual potato production of 9 million tonnes, we import starch, chips and other potato products," Ivan Bambiza said. According to the experts, Belarus can export 1.5 million tonnes of potato annually.

According to Ivan Bambiza, in the future additional measures will be taken in Belarus to regulate the demand and supply balance on the agrarian market as well as the profits of the agricultural companies in case of sharp market fluctuations or any force majeures. The Vice Premier drawn special attention to the fluctuations in the prices for dried skimmed milk at the international markets. Thus, in September 2009 this product was sold at the price of USD 1.45 per 1 kilo at the exchange. In December the price reached USD 4.

"The fiscal effect would have been much better if these products had been stored and sold after the seasonal decline," Ivan Bambiza is confident.

Asked by the chairman of the Council of the Republic Anatoly Rubinov what the prospects of the potato-growing industry were, the Vice-Premier said that one of the main reasons hampering the development of the industry is the absence of advanced potato-storage facilities. Despite the high production volume (9 million tonnes of potatoes a year) Belarus has to import starch and frozen peeled potatoes.

The problem can be addressed through the selection of new varieties and construction of potato storage facilities, he said. Belarusian scientists are working on the new sorts of potatoes. Yet, the content of starch is still low, 8-11%. Its content should be above 20% for potato processing to be profitable.

Ivan Bambiza said that by the end of 2010 Belarus intends to complete the program to construct potato storage facilities. It has been fulfilled at 58%/. Therefore the government intends to "take its implementation under control. "There is no alternative for us. This is the only way we can ensure potato export," Ivan Bambiza said. According to him, now the potato storage losses reach 30-50%, which makes potato production an unprofitable business.

Belarus intends to construct big multiproduct trade and logistics centers to render trade and consumer services using Belarusian brands, the Deputy Prime Minister said. He also reminded that a Belarusian trade and logistics center is being constructed in St. Petersburg now.

He noted that one of the priority goals of Belarus is to develop export potential and strengthen the commodity distribution network abroad. The cost of the supplies of the Belarusian agro-industrial goods against consumer prices on the Russian market is around 50%. So, the value added profits belong to foreign companies, the official underscored.

The Vice Premier is sure that in the future Belarus will intensify the introduction of sci-tech innovations and technological modernization, the use of resource-saving technologies for plant growing and cattle breeding. These measures will allow the country to increase agribusiness' profitability up to 30%, Ivan Bambiza underscored.


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