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05 October 2022, 14:10

Will Belarus ensure its own food security? Lukashenko wants to turn on ‘total dictatorship'

The words "food security" are heard everywhere today. A world food crisis is being discussed in the East and in the West and the UN is worried about it. Everyone says that it is now one of the most pressing problems for the planet. But let's see what this definition really means, how much food Belarusians need to feel safe, and why Aleksandr Lukashenko started experimental fields many years ago. The new project After the Fact: Decisions of the First One covers it all.

What is the food security situation in the world?

This article has been published virtually at lunchtime. And we have a question for you: have you already eaten today? We think the answer is obvious. But over 17 million people in the region, to which Belarus belongs according to the Food and Agricultural Organization, are now suffering from acute food shortages and are unlikely to be able to eat today. In 2021 hunger affected up to 828 million people across the globe. It is almost 90 times more than the population of Belarus. Figuratively speaking, last year 90 countries with the same population as Belarus faced famine. The outlook is even more depressing this year. Some countries do not plan for famine, they wait for it.

Do you remember what Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said in June? He said: “They [the West] have skinned and brought all of Africa to its knees. That's the main reason - inequality. Therefore, Europeans, Americans, Chinese and Russians need to fork out money not for weapons, but to invest in these countries, create a normal situation there. Everything can grow in Africa.”

Lukashenko wants world to invest in Africa's development instead of weaponsLukashenko wants world to invest in Africa
Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “They [the West] have scalped and brought entire Africa to its knees. Those people are slaves of transnational Western companies. They work for them for a song. Inequality is the main reason."

Due to lack of fertilizers and soaring fuel and energy prices, agriculture in many countries of the world is under threat. And Europe is no exception. Farmers over there already protested in the summer. The farmers warned their governments about a possible collapse. And what about less wealthy countries? The situation over there is even worse. And amid this situation the West prohibits the shipping of Belarusian potash fertilizers, blocks Russian grain in ports. It does not feel that the sanctions are aimed at Belarus and Russia.

Aleksandr Lukashenko referred to these sanctions as thoughtless since they have put many countries on the brink of survival. “Winter is coming. And it will be a cold and hungry winter for those who cannot feed themselves,” he warned in summer.

Lukashenko: ‘Those unable to feed themselves should prepare for cold, hungry winter'Lukashenko: ‘Those unable to feed themselves should prepare for cold, hungry winter
The mindless sanctions on fertilizers and energy and the severance of transport links have put many countries on the verge of survival. Winter is coming. Those who will not be able to feed themselves are in for a cold and hungry winter, Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.

Why did Belarus' rankings drop? Why do Americans talk impudently to Biden?

In the global food security ranking Belarus ranks 55th out of 113 states. It is a rather low figure for our country. For example, a couple of years ago the republic ranked 23rd in the ranking. According to international experts, Belarus has one of the highest indicators in terms of the overall food security strategy, product quality, production potential, and support for farmers.

But some of the studies that ultimately affected the rankings are puzzling. For example, experts are concerned that women farmers are not supported in the country (at the same time, gender inequality is practically absent). They are also dissatisfied with low marine biodiversity. They think that we are in danger of either a drought or a flood. And on the whole, they believe the authorities are not responsible for food security, and the country is involved in an armed conflict. It feels like the experts mistake us for someone else.

At the same time the United States occupies 13th place in the same ranking. Meanwhile, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, one in ten American families are facing food shortages. In a twitter post Biden promised that the state and the private sector will allocate $8 billion and hunger will be ended in the country by 2030. Putting it mildly, Americans were bewildered by it. This figure looks ridiculous in comparison with billions worth of military aid granted to Kiev and the recent approval of $350 billion in financial aid to Ukraine.

“Let's end hunger in this country by 2030. Why can't you do it now by using the money tree that grows billions for your endless mass slaughter? How do Americans tolerate decades of lies?” Biden's post got many replies.

“Start with the refusal to send any money to Ukraine,” Americans advise.

“You are about to endorse yet another package of military aid to Ukraine worth $12 billion. The money can be used to feed 17 million starving Americans for an entire year. Just something to bear in mind if you are not a total piece of sh$t,” it seems USA residents are starting to suspect something.

So feel free to trust the international ratings.

Can Belarus ensure its own food security?

But let's get back to Belarus. Does the country really have enough of its own resources to provide the population with quality food? For example, the total cereal harvest, including corn and rapeseed, has exceeded 11 million tonnes this year. This is a record-high figure. At the same time, the state needs only about 800,000 tonnes per year.

Every year every Belarusian consumes 237kg of milk on average. Almost 3.5 times as much is produced in the country - 841kg per capita. A Belarusian eats almost 100kg of meat and 266 eggs a year - 40% more of these products are produced. What about potatoes, you ask? The situation is similar: 159kg versus 517kg.

Good. But why then you can often find any kind of potatoes (Russian, Egyptian or even Macedonian) in retail, but not Belarusian potatoes?

In fact, we should ask the retail chains about it. They offer not so good terms to Belarusian producers. And we should ask the producers themselves. Not all of them can keep potatoes well in between seasons. The head of state wants “total dictatorship” turned on in order to resolve this problem.

The president said: “We need total dictatorship this year. Retailers must sign contracts to sell everything the farmers make. We have to consume our own potatoes, not Egyptian ones. I have nothing against Egypt. But, you have to agree, it takes a month to bring potatoes from Egypt while our own ones remain unused. All the storage facilities in the country need to be chock-full. Not a single potato, not a single apple has to be thrown away. Everything will be bought and sold. And I want you to put the screws on retailers. And force them to sign contracts.”

Lukashenko instructs to make sufficient stocks of fruits, vegetablesLukashenko instructs to make sufficient stocks of fruits, vegetables
We need to makes sufficient stocks of fruits and vegetables in order to meet the needs of the domestic market with home-grown products in the off-season, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he made a working trip to Grodno District.

In his words, “dictatorship” is also needed in order to ensure production and technological discipline. He said: “We need a dictatorship. Let's turn it on. Let's turn on the administrative resource and get things done the way they are supposed to be done. We need discipline. This is why let's not spend money on all kinds of disgrace but let's truly take care of technologies. If we want to be rich in agriculture.”

How many countries buy food from Belarus?

When it comes to food security, Belarusians just shrug their shoulders and say: what are you talking about, take a look at the shelves in stores. And indeed it is unlikely that the country is concerned about the lack of a product. Unless prices can sometimes be naughty and then due to objective reasons. What hunger are you talking about if in addition to satisfying the domestic demand Belarus also supplies its food to dozens of countries? The republic earns billions of U.S. dollars on it.

Kseniya Meleshko, Head of the Central Office for Foreign Economic Activity of the Agriculture and Food Ministry, said: “Food is exported to over 100 countries across the globe. The number of buyers of our products is on the rise. We expand the choice of exports. We offer more exports on the already explored target markets. We have started selling butter to Serbia, ice cream to Jordan, condensed milk to Saudi Arabia. These are but a few examples of the expanding geography of sales.”

Belarus' food export revenues on the riseBelarus
The situation in foreign markets is favorable for Belarusian food exporters, Ksenia Meleshko, the head of the Directorate for Foreign Economic Activity at the Agriculture and Food Ministry, said in the project “Presidential Decisions in a Nutshell” on BelTA's YouTube channel.

A powerful agricultural sector is not the Soviet legacy that Belarus inherited when the USSR collapsed. And it is totally not the manna that suddenly fell from heaven. It is the hard work of every villager. It is the sleepless nights of the scientists who worked on Belarusian crop varieties and fertilizers. It is the price of the efforts of all the Belarusians, as the president said.

Well, there is no need to be ashamed: agriculture is the life of the head of state. Aleksandr Lukashenko has been immersed in the problems of the villagers since the first years of his presidency and is ready to solve them to this day. Geopolitics for Belarus is not a battle for world domination (except maybe in terms of food export). It is not about attempts to dominate the region or annex new territories. It is important for Belarus to ensure its own security. In this case, food security. Everything else is philosophy.

Aleksandr Lukashenko
Aleksandr Lukashenko's working trip to Minsk Oblast, Brest Oblast, and Grodno Oblast in 2002. An archive photo courtesy of president.gov.by

Agriculture and Food Minister Igor Brylo said: "The Republic of Belarus is advancing to a very serious level as an agricultural player in the world. It's no secret that we are among the leaders in the export of dairy products. We are in the top ten in terms of meat export. The Republic of Belarus is known."

What is grown in Lukashenko's experimental fields?

Therefore, battles in Belarus are field battles in the literal sense. They take place in arable lands, in agricultural lands and even in experimental fields of the president. Yes, while some test new types of chemical weapons, the presidential fields serve as another experimental platform for breeders. Advanced crops are grown here using the latest technologies. New varieties of potatoes and barley were studied here. It was here that the trend in favor of growing watermelons in Belarus began.

And not so long ago Aleksandr Lukashenko gave instructions to test sunflower planting in order to decide whether this practice should be expanded onto the whole country. New sunflower oil production facilities may appear in Belarus.

Why does Belarus need rapeseed?

But the head of state places a special emphasis on rapeseed: “Rapeseed means money for peasants. Today, even amid these frenzied sanctions Europe asks: ‘Give me rapeseed oil!' We need to make about 1 million tonnes of rapeseed. We already have more than 700,000 today. Therefore, we need to reach one million. That's the idea. It has to revolutionize agriculture.”

Rapeseed has not been a major crop of Belarusian agriculture until recently. But today the golden fields are already a familiar landscape for Belarusians. Rapeseed is the most highly productive oil and protein crop in our climatic conditions. Oil, cake and even biofuels are made from it. The potential of rapeseed has not yet been fully exploited. Scientists compare it to oil, call it the present and future of the country, an important import substitute and even a foreign exchange reserve.

Natalya Sonich, Head of the Central Office for Animal Husbandry Intensification of the Agriculture and Food Ministry, said: “Rapeseed is a protein-heavy feed. Even if we compare prices now, it is the cheapest protein there is. It plays a major role in the diet of animals. Certainly, we will not stop using soya extraction cakes, sunflower extraction cakes because amino acid composition and energy content are different in these cakes. But nevertheless it substitutes imports, first and foremost.”

When will Belarusian apples replace Polish ones?

Belarus falls short, probably, only in the production of fruits and berries. This is the only indicator where the level of self-sufficiency is below 100%. And it is way lower, by nearly two times. Therefore, Aleksandr Lukashenko sets ambitious goals here: there should be as much food of Belarusian make as possible on the tables of Belarusians. The government has been instructed to work out a program for the development of horticulture. Its implementation will satisfy the domestic demand and will enable export.

“You can't sit and wait until an apple is brought here from Poland or Moldova! As time shows, you may wait in vain! Therefore, you need to grow it yourself. And, as we saw today, it works great with a proper approach and adherence to technology. And not only here, in Grodno Oblast!" the president said as he visited Grodno District.

Heating has already been turned on in our houses. There are tonnes of food to suit every taste in marketplaces, fairs, and shops. We will spend this winter in warmth and complete food security like all the previous ones.

The project has been created using the target fee for the production of national content.

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