By Kirill Ignatiev
The technical re-equipment of the branch was under focus at the meeting, with President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko asserting that imports should be reduced as much as possible, replaced by domestic produce. This led indirectly to the theme of foreign currency leaving the country. The Centre’s staff are convinced that the problem can be solved quickly and efficiently, as they boast good experience. Over the past five years, the Rural Revival Programme has given Belarusian farms over 20,000 new tractors, in addition to about 12,000 different combines, 9,000 fertilising machines and various other machinery.
Never before have Belarusian villages been so well equipped. Modernisation is almost complete, with the issue of quality now replacing that of quantity. The General Director of the Scientific-Practical Centre for Agricultural Mechanisation, Vladimir Samosyuk, explains that Belarus currently has about 49,000 tractors operational, while needing almost 52,000; some villages still lack the latest machinery. Despite this, the needs of the agro-industrial branch are being satisfied.
The Centre was set up five years ago to elaborate a common strategy for deciding which machinery was needed in villages and at which volumes. The development and manufacture of such machinery was the most important goal at the time. Scientists and designers demonstrated their best achievements, with over a hundred innovations being designed over the five year period and many of them being assembled. Last year alone, $140m of combines, seeders, mowing machines, ploughs and other devices were produced — all developed by the Centre. Its staff believe that reducing costs is the new priority for Belarusian agriculture. Achieving European levels of production efficiency will be otherwise impossible. Naturally, scientists are working in various directions. They told Mr. Lukashenko of the numerous projects currently underway. Among them is a new economical pig breeding complex, a biogas complex and a workshop to produce dried cultures (previously, Belarus purchased $12m of these annually).
The President is keen to see more Belarusian components used in domestic agricultural machinery, in the shortest possible time. It has taken several years to ensure that potato seeders use 80 percent Belarus-made components, which have been tested and adjusted to allow them to rival foreign varieties. The President emphasises that time-scales must be reduced. “We need to at least halve this period. Problems regarding foreign currency and other matters will then disappear. We need to double our efforts in all spheres and maximise production,” Mr. Lukashenko stresses. He notes that, at the end of the day, money and profit are all that matter in the farming industry.