Russians have enough reasons to worry about the national economy. However, there are some positive moments in the sphere. Russian Minister for Agriculture Alexey Gordeyev reports about sensation success: the country is reaching the leading positions in export of grain.
“A record-breaking harvest of grain was gathered in Russia, the country is going to become the strongest grain market maker,” Alexey Gordeyev says. In his words, total grain harvest is expected at the rate of about 100 million tons this year. The minister cautiously says, export can make up 6 million tons. Izvestia newspaper informs with reference to the Institute for Agrarian Marketing, last year’s export exceeded 7 million tons. Consequently, this year’s amount is going to be even higher. At first, officials were frightened with an unexpectedly big harvest. Indeed, landslide of corn prices is unfavorable for the Russian economy. Corn producers refuse to sell grain at an unbelievably low price which will not cover spending, and what it more, it can drive them into a debtor’s prison. That is why grain is getting stale at elevators, cattle is fed with it. Consequently, next year, Russia may face another problem of meat overproduction.
After the first moments of bewilderment, economists seem to be recovering now. In fact, the decided that large harvest is a nice chance for PR.
The minister for agriculture stressed: “Prime cost of corns in Canada is 40% higher than in Russia. So, Russian grain is the most competitive on the market. Only Australia with its favorable conditions can compete with us. But it may face a transport problem at that.” Russian media report: “After having reached no consensus with Europe, the Ministry for Agriculture plans to export grain to North Africa and Mideast countries. It is not ruled out that Egypt will be on the top of importing countries, the ministry hopes for it at least.”
It is not clear why the agriculture minister and journalists ignore one really important fact. Almost all Russian arable lands are situated in a so-called risky farming zone. Delicate hard wheat almost never grows ripe under Russian climate conditions, only simple sorts ripen successfully here. These are usually coarse grains designed for cattle feeding, the cattle which further goes to smoking houses. Such grains are not good for baking white crispy rolls are so much loved by Europeans. For this very reason only Ukraine, Kuban and even Kazakhstan lands were considered Soviet granaries, on no account the chernozem zone. What leader positions can be mentioned in this case then?
Even in the Soviet era annoying political incidents occurred in the country because of unbelievably great harvests. Soviet specialists who worked in Cuba for a long time, remember an incident that chilled friendly relations between Communist leader Leonid Brezhnev and Fidel Castro. In the time of an economic blockade introduced by the USA against Cuba, it was a problem for the Soviet leadership how to dispose of the excess of grain-crops. It was decided to send humanitarian aid to Cuba, the country experiencing a grave economic crisis, which at that time was on the verge of a large-scale starvation. The grain was delivered to Havana and unloaded in the port. Cuban experts tested quality of the Soviet humanitarian aid, and after declaring the grain quality unsatisfactory, it was thrown away into the sea. Unfortunately, American journalists videotaped the operation, the scandal later became known in the world. Fidel Castro took offense at Brezhnev. Despite severe economic conditions in the country, Cuba bought necessary amounts of high-quality wheat from Argentina.
It is a sure fact, Russian wheat, rye and barley are really popular in many countries of the world. However, a significant fact should be taken into consideration at that: Russian grains are bought for cattle feeding. And this is against the background of actual leaders of the world cereals market, the USA, Australia, Canada, Argentina which are selling nigh quality expensive hard wheat all over the world. These countries gather wonderful wheat harvests every year due to good climate conditions, traditionally good agriculture and mechanization. In this connection, it is untimely to speak about leadership of Russia on the world cereals market.
Kira Poznakhirko PRAVDA.Ru
According to the State Customs Committee, amount of wheat exported by Russian traders within January – May 2002 made up 2,357 million tons (that is 49 times more than over the same year-ago period) to the sum of $200,9 million. These showings rated Russia among the ten largest wheat and barley exporters. Top leaders of the rating are the USA, Australia and Canada, Russia is rated seventh, between Ukraine and Kazakhstan. Bad harvest in Western Europe made for promotion of Russian traders on the foreign market. Russian grain was preferred because of its unbelievably low price and Russia’s close geographic location.
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/08/26/46248.html