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Belarus President criticizes 2017 harvesting campaign: What changed in fields afterwards?

The figures of the week were 7 million tons of grain and the date - August 20. The Belarus President set the task for agrarians to finish harvesting by that day. Tough deadlines are the result of a tough conversation with regional governors at a large online conference. Checks by the State Control Committee revealed drawbacks and reluctant attitude of some farms to harvesting. The machinery is not fully prepared for work. There are questions to managers and employees.

Harvest for Belarus is not only indicators. Virtually everything thanks to which the country lives and grows is hard work. Be it in the field of high technology or in the fields. What you sow, you will reap. It's labor that feeds Belarusians, and not some manna from hydrocarbon pipeline. Therefore, slackness is not tolerable.

There are a lot of fields. But the resource of agricultural machinery is always limited. It has a habit of breaking down. Therefore, harvesting is not just a matter of technology. This is also discipline.

In the first days of harvesting work was quite slow - only up to 3% of the crop was harvested during the first 24 hours.

The conference on harvesting, which was not held for several years, turned out to be a necessary measure. The ignition key that finally managed to invigorate work in the fields.

By the end of the week reports from the fields have become much more optimistic. During this time, Belarus has managed to harvest a quarter of the entire crop. And the goal - to finish by August 20 - is not so ghostly.

Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus:
It is strictly forbidden to cite weather as the reason for all problems. God grant that we have this weather every year. This was the ideal year for agriculture. Grass is beautiful, grain is good, perfect potatoes, flax, beets, vegetables. This is also a harvest. And a very important one for man. All this is better than in the past. A beautiful year. Yes, it was raining too. Who is surprised by the fact that it rains in Belarus? And what if everything dried up? Well, we would have harvest grains, got 7 million tons, but there would be no potatoes, there would be no vegetables.

Not all farms in Belarus turned out to be ready to harvest crops. This is despite the fact that everything necessary for a successful harvest was done by the state on time. 6% of combine harvesters throughout the country at the time of the conference were still being repaired. In figures, it is almost 600 combine harvesters.

Leonid Anfimov, Chairman of the State Control Committee of the Republic of Belarus:
In this situation it is necessary to organize work, possibly round the clock. So that after harvesters we immediately remove straw from the fields, so that fertilizers are introduced, soil cultivation is carried out for sowing. At the same time, as the control measures show, some agricultural organizations are not fully prepared for the rapid implementation of these works.

The main problem was lack of machinery and this is the topic raised during the conference several times. The heads of Belarusian regions complained about the lack of harvesters, which leads to real risk of losing part of crops.

In 2017, 339 new agricultural machines were to be put into operation. By the time the harvesting began, less than 150 were shipped.

Alexander Lukashenko:
All the equipment that was ordered must be sent to the farms. If not paid, do it under the guarantee of governors. What's the use of the fact that combines were made and they are currently still at the factory? You say no money... Well, tomorrow it will appear. But you won't need harvesters tomorrow. Therefore, immediately sent them, under the guarantees of governors and [prime minister] Kobyakov.

Somewhere there was a lack of harvesters, somewhere shortage of machine operators and somewhere banal shortage of fuel.

Vitebsk region:
In order not to restrain the amount of work, the complex as a whole, we of course need to solve fuel issues, regarding installments.

Alexander Lukashenko:
So, the decision on fertilizers and fuel. Responsible for it are the Prime Minister and commissioners for the regions. There must be a one-week minimum fuel reseve in the region (I emphasize, not on farms, specifically, but in the region as a whole).

300 liters. This will last 360 minutes. The fuel consumption of one unit is 50 liters per hour. There appeared to be enough problems with providing the "circulatory system" of combines. One of the Grodno region farms seems to have found the ideal ratio - they have a five-day storage of fuel and provide a harvester with a one-day supply of fuel so that the harvester does not stand idle for a second, because it is not economically profitable.

And again, weather is a serious factor, but not a key one. Sensible management is the catalyst for a successful harvesting campaign.

A few years ago, Alexander Lukashenko instructed to ensure the storage of grass properly. But some farms still experience problems with fodder. It turns out that up to 30% of already harvested fodder is still buried in the ground.

Alexander Lukashenko:
In terms of trenches I want to remind you once again: please, solve this problem by the next year. Collect everything, where possible, in the country, every extra penny, but make normal warehouses for feed. Look, the effect will be stunning.

The Brest region is not only the southernmost, but also very necessary in the total harvesting. Although the figures here are indeed higher (they collected half, without a hitch), the main remark of the control bodies is the same as in other regions: grain was buried in the ground for storage. This is mismanagement. The Minsk region is losing harvest for the same reason.

Stanislav Zas, State Secretary of Security Council of the Republic of Belarus:
There are different farms and different levels of order, discipline. There are, unfortunately, examples of mismanagement. Such cases also abound. Unfortunately, after starting this harvesting campaign, 12 units of equipment have already burned down in the fields. Agree, this is a lot. And, of course, someone will answer for this.

On the positive side, such phenomena "drunk harvesting" or sabotage of work is an extreme rarity in all of the regions.

Summing up the conference, Alexander Lukashenko noted that the main task is to stir up and make people work harder. Expected harvest is about 8 million tons. More than a quarter of the harvest has been removed. Here literally every grain matters.

Alexander Lukashenko:
Do not wait. 20% of grain moisture - immediately start harvesting. With such weather and you must cope by August 20. Everything should be technologically smart. We will control it. Technology and quality this year. We cannot lose 800,000 or 1 million tons of bread, we can't leave it on the field.

Such conferences might be called an anachronism. But this means close attention to agriculture at the state level. This is perhaps a distinctive Belarusian feature.

Alexander Lukashenko:
No one will work for free at a collective farm, at a state farm. Therefore, peasants must be paid if there is a debt. And we need to establish normal tariffs so that people earn good money, at least in these months. And the salary must be paid on time. Do not build Potemkin Villages. I do not need them. I will find an opportunity to check, I have enough controllers. Here, a lot has been said about shortcomings. It's time to answer. Alexander Vladimirovich, take up this issue. To all law enforcement bodies, together with the State Control Committee: the perpetrators are to be brought to severe responsibility. From October 1, start monitoring and taking action together with the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the KGB and other structures.

For Belarus bread is 7.5% of the GDP and the main export potential.

But it's worth remembering that things were not always like this. "Bread queues" at the dawn of independence was a real picture of the 1990s when Belarus only just gained independence. The successes of the agricultural complex are the guarantee of the country's food security. Hardly anyone will argue with this today. So reports from the fields are much more important than any other news.

Belarus President criticizes 2017 harvesting campaign: What changed in fields afterwards?