Russian Minister of Agriculture: Wages Must Be Raised Sharply for Agricultural Workers

Growth of domestic agricultural production is contained by foreign competitors operating on the Russian market, Deputy Chairman of the Russian Government, Russian Minister of Agriculture Alexei Gordeyev said on Friday at a meeting with agricultural executives and representatives of agricultural enterprises of the Khabarovsk Region.

In the past four years, Russia's agriculture "has been developing steadily and dynamically," with the agricultural growth rate peaking at 22% (5.5% annually), Gordeyev noted. Labour productivity went up 10% over the period, the reduction of cultivation areas was stopped. In the past two years Russia gathered record harvests of crops.

However, acute problems remain, such as profitability fall, lack of benefit, unprofitable fruit, vegetable, dairy and meat trade, the minister pointed out. In many cases workers and management are unable to solve these problems. Gordeyev believes that a federal law on parity inter-sectoral economic relations may tackle inflated prices and tariffs on fuel, electricity and transport.

The minister said that agricultural workers received unfairly meagre salaries, which contained agricultural growth. An average Russian agricultural worker gets 1,800 rubles a month, whereas oil sector workers receive twelve times as much.

The minister believes that in order to ensure sustainable agricultural growth the government needs to write off earlier fines, restrict agricultural import, pursue "more aggressive customs and tariffs policy," build rural housing and well-equipped production facilities, water and gas pipelines. It is also of importance that media focus more on rural life and agricultural problems, Gordeyev stressed.

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