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18 August 2022, 13:13

Lukashenko sets tasks to boost Belarus' horticulture industry

GRODNO DISTRICT, 18 August (BelTA) - The conditions Belarus has created make it possible to fully provide the domestic fruit growing sector with own fruit and berry products, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko said at a government meeting in Grodno Oblast on 18 August to discuss the development of gardens and the provision of the domestic market with fruit and vegetable products, BelTA has learned.

According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, there are gardens in all the regions, but their number is obviously small. The president regularly instructs the government and regional executive committees to increase the area of productive varieties of fruit and berry crops, to revive gardens. Funds are regularly allocated from the national budget under the state program Agrarian Business. For example about Br2 million will be allocated in 2022.

However, garden areas are decreasing annually, the head of state said. If in 2010 the garden areas were 40,500 hectares, there were only 27,000 hectares of them in early 2022. “The area is shrinking, but if we can produce three or four times more goods on the reduced area, the same as in Grodno Oblast, then go ahead. Otherwise, we have to be careful with the areas we have,” the president said.

The productivity of gardens has also decreased: the average yield of fruit and berries were 38.5 centners per hectare in 2021, 2% down from 2020.

“At the same time the average yield in farms is 154 - four times higher. Why? It is clear that some southern varieties due to climatic conditions do not take root. But we have the Institute of Horticulture, three scientific institutions which are engaged in breeding work and adaptation of foreign varieties to our conditions. According to the National Academy of Sciences, work on the development of new varieties is permanent. The state register includes almost 150 descriptions, including 50 varieties of apple trees. This allows us to fully provide the fruit farming industry with our own fruit and berry crops,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

Technological regulations for cultivation have also been developed. It is just necessary to fulfill them, the president stressed. “Today we constantly speak about technology. Horticulture in general does not tolerate violation of technology. If you fail to do something there, you will get nothing,” he said.

Once it was difficult to imagine that watermelons, melons, peaches, and blueberries would grow in the Belarusian climate. Today these varieties grow both in the country's private and state farms. “Large agricultural enterprises should also get involved in this work more actively,” the head of state believes.

In his words, the time of fruit harvesting is approaching and there is a need to focus on the crop preservation. “At the end of summer, an apple is cheap, but in winter and even better in spring, it has a completely different price. You need to know how to preserve the crop, and then you will get 150-200% profitability. We have enough winter varieties, and Belarusians will gladly buy a domestic apple at a reasonable price. We can earn good money on the export too. The question is whether we have enough storage facilities?" Aleksandr Lukashenko asked. “There is no need to develop horticulture without storage facilities. If you have storage facilities, then develop gardens,” he said.

“I have already told the governor here that everything they grow and want to sell (this applies to all governors) must have contracts. I mean contracts must be concluded on everything they want to sell,” the president said.

The head of state also recalled his instruction to make educational institutions in charge of gardens. So-called gardens under the patronage of educational institutions is not a new practice, the head of state said. Now this tradition is being revived. However, Aleksandr Lukashenko thinks that this work has been so far done only on paper. “You will bear the responsibility for the result,” he warned. “Let us agree to evaluate the result in the reports by the main criterion - the actual crop of fruits and berries,” he added.

“This is not to say that school gardens should replace intensive cultivation gardens. This should not be done instead. We need them to teach our children to cultivate the land, to make them understand that this apple costs money, that it was not grown on the internet,” the president explained.

The head of state asked scientists and government officials what measures are being taken to develop productive gardens, how the work on cultivating modern varieties of Belarusian selection and technologies for intensive horticulture is going on, how well the storage facilities are prepared for the harvested crops and what the forecast is for the volumes of production during the off-season for home consumption and export.

Prior to the government meeting, Aleksandr Lukashenko got familiar with the development of horticulture in Grodno District. The president visited the fruit and berry garden of the V.I. Kremko Production Cooperative. There the head of state was shown some fruit and vegetable products grown in the farm including products.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also got familiar with the soybean growing technologies. The expediency of its cultivation in Belarus has been repeatedly discussed at recent presidential events. The head of state believes that the country's soybean crop areas, as well as those of sunflower, should be increased. Even if not on a large scale, the main thing is to try it out in order to be ready for cultivation of these crops in the future, if it turns out to be economically feasible.

“We have to be ready for tomorrow. We will be technologically ready for it. We must know how to do it,” the president said.

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