SLUTSK DISTRICT, 29 July (BelTA) – Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko reiterated the importance of expanding winter barley planting areas in the country during his working visit to Slutsk District and the Kozlovichi-Agro farm on 29 July, BelTA has learned.
The president was briefed that 13% of the areas have been harvested so far, with the average yield increasing in all the regions. According to Belarusian Agriculture and Food Minister Igor Brylo, plans are in place to significantly increase the area of winter barley crops.
The president explained why he has been lately paying close attention to this crop. “Winter barley is salvation for us. Its vegetation time comes at a period when there is some moisture. This is true especially for the southern parts of the country. We should try it in Gomel Oblast, if there is not enough moisture,” said the president.
Winter barley can be harvested earlier than other crops and the machinery can be used more evenly throughout the harvest season. Although winter barley is a demanding crop, it is still possible to secure high yields using the right technology. The presidential fields are showing the yield of about 80 centners per hectare this year. The Kozlovichi-Agro farm has reached similar results. Plans are to significantly expand the planting areas under winter barley here next year.
“We need to cultivate winter barley. No one was interested in it in the Soviet times. Today we have technologies, equipment and specialists. We can easily get a good harvest of barley. We should try to do it,” the Belarusian leader said.
Yet, there should be a reasonable balance, the president warned. In case of low yields due to bad weather conditions the country's agricultural sector should be ready to make up for it through other crops.
According to the president, there is no need to force the farms to sow certain areas with winter barley: “There is no need to pressurize. They should decide for themselves, taking into account their experience and expertise, how much barley to cultivate."
According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, if all the grain cultivation technologies are strictly followed and the yields are high, it is possible to plant less grain and allocate more land for protein crops in the future. It is important for breeding cattle which needs quality fodder. Such measures will also help cut on protein imports and save significant funds.
The head of state stressed the need for domestic agricultural enterprises to do their best to provide as much fodder and grain for cattle breeding as possible, including through developing additional lands. One can reason that if there is money, everything can be bought abroad, the president said. “But you take money out of the country, you do not invest in domestic agriculture. We need to develop our agriculture. This should be under strict control. The [Agriculture and Food] Ministry must control it. After all, there are good examples - strong farms that provide themselves with grain. Of course, if you have money, you may take it and buy grain somewhere else. Yet, we must make our fields produce at least 50 centners per hectare. Thus, the agricultural sector will develop. It is a very important issue today. We are looking for funds to invest in some unprofitable enterprises, while hundreds of millions of US dollars are taken outside the country,” stressed Aleksandr Lukashenko.
The issue of regulating prices for the products of agro-industrial enterprises was also discussed during the visit to the farm. Aleksandr Lukashenko pointed out that today, along with the desire to ensure maximum profit from the sale of agricultural products, including in foreign markets, one should not forget about the social aspect, the saturation of the domestic market and the interests of the state, which once allocated considerable financial resources for the development of agricultural enterprises. “Do we provide bonuses? Do we give cheaper loans?” the head of state asked rhetorically. “They say they would take it to Russia as it is more profitable there. Did they provide for the market? The government provided for the market,” he said.
The president asked about the agricultural production rate in the country in general and also about the plans to increase the industry's GDP by 4% compared to the level of the previous year. It was reported that this year's harvest figures would be better, and milk production would also be gaining momentum. The poultry and pork industries which faced problems for some time are also reaching stable operation.
Arriving in Slutsk District, Aleksandr Lukashenko was interested first of all in the plans to ensure further growth, and emphasized the need to intensify production. Kozlovichi-Agro is a strong enterprise, but, the head of state is sure, it is not loaded to the full. The main thing is to double the number of cattle and milk cattle in the medium term. “This is your salvation and profitability,” the head of state stressed addressing the head of the enterprise.
The possibility of enlarging and adding farmland to the enterprise was also discussed.
The president visited the new dairy farm Lesuny which was built mainly at the expense of the company's own funds and commissioned in early June 2022. Today, the farm holds 10% of the main herd with a rated capacity of 800 head. The farm has a potential to increase its herd to 1,500 head.
When discussing the financing and support for further construction of such complexes on other farms, the president underlined that such support should be selective and depend on the prospects. “We will support. But we must get results,” he said.
The president got familiar with the farm and discussed its further work with the executives. “It is a good project. If it is optimal in costs, then it is a good project,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
According to the head of state, prospects are in further implementation of technology and robotization of processes. In the end, it gives more profitability and requires less labor resources, the search for which is difficult in some places.
Another point is the need for strict discipline across the staff to prevent the management of well-performing farms from becoming indifferent seeing the example of the work of weaker farms. “This should not be allowed,” the Belarusian leader stressed.
The head of state praised the businesslike approach of the enterprise's management to the construction of cattle-breeding premises. Many things are done on their own, which saves money. The president's requirements in the area of import substitution are the same.
“Everything must be domestic. If we set a goal, we will be able to do everything,” the head of state said adding that this applies not only to a particular enterprise or agriculture, but to other areas as well.
“Thank you. That was a very good visit,” the president said in conclusion.