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14 February 2019, 16:43

Belarus aims for $6.2bn in food exports in 2020

MINSK, 14 February (BelTA) – Belarus aims to have food exports at $6.2 billion in 2020, Belarus' Agriculture and Food Minister Leonid Zayats said in an interview to the Selskaya Gazeta newspaper ahead of the 100th anniversary of the Agriculture and Food Ministry, BelTA has learned.

According to Leonid Zayats, in the 1990s Belarus exported about 2 million tonnes of milk. In 2018 it was 4.2 million tonnes of milk, 233,000 tonnes more than in 2017. "We earned $5.2 billion in 2018, which was $260 million more than in 2017. This is not the limit: the domestic agricultural industry can produce more. The president set us the goal to increase export to at least $6.2 billion in 2020. The country has gained foothold on many markets and continues searching for new ones. We deliver our food products to 95 countries. Our products are organic and environmentally friendly. Our brand is known worldwide and there is no need to advertise it on our traditional markets. We never stop working on competitiveness and quality," the minister said.

Every day the agricultural industry exports $14.3 million worth of goods. Every worker in agriculture produces goods worth $13,000. Every hectare of arable land yields more than $10,000 in export earnings. "The welfare of personnel depends on the financial health of a company. This is what we should aim for. Our villages should be rich and thriving. We must improve living and working conditions in rural areas. Wages is the number one issue. In 2017, the average salary was Br651, up by 16% year-on-year. But that is not enough. Now the task is to rise the average salary in agriculture to Br800. What do we need to do to achieve this target? We need to increase revenues at least 1.2 times. In 2018 we managed to generate a 9% increase, though the year was not a good one for agriculture. To live better, we need to work harder, produce more milk per cow, more wheat, rapeseed, sugar beet," Leonid Zayats noted.

The farmers movement is gaining steam in Belarus. "There are very good farms, which work rationally and competently, show good financial and economic results. Some of them took advantage of the current regulations and incorporated loss-making farms. These initiatives are starting to gain traction.

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