The Belarus government has allocated about USD 10 million to developing the national linen industry in 2003.
As a Rosbalt correspondent was informed at the Belarus Ministry of Economics yesterday, this decision was taken in line with a decree by President Alexander Lukashenko 'on certain measures for financing the food and agriculture industry in 2003.' A spokesperson for the ministry said 'this will help us overcome the falling output of the industry and provide economic growth in this area.'
According to ministry information, 'this is the only plant growing industry which produces raw materials for manufacturing and provides linen goods for sale at home and abroad.' In recent years this particular industry has been in decline.
The total area for growing flax (the plant used for making linen) decreased from 149.2 thousand hectares in 1990 to 68.9 thousand hectares in 2002 and the harvest remains low and of a poor quality. Linen factories in Belarus only worked at 56.9% of their capacity in 2002 and 49 of the 54 factories recorded losses. Total losses came to about USD 4.5 billion.