Bread and Song

Bobruisk hosted the national festival-fair “Dazhynki-2006”
The centuries-old folk tradition to celebrate the end of the harvesting campaign has been updated, although the essence remains the same: the grain is stored in tanks to ensure well-being and security in every home.

“Dazhynki-2006” marked its jubilee in Bobruisk: the ancient tradition was revived ten years ago. Since then Belarus’ agriculture has changed a lot. Back in the 90s they were talking about surviving, whereas in 2006 farmers were speaking about different things. Most farms are now concerned about upgrade and use of innovation, about the necessity to reach the level of developed countries, rather than about how to keep body and soul together. In a word, despite the bad weather that prevented Belarus from having its record high harvest this year, there were great reasons to celebrate.

Over the ten years of its existence, the Belarusian “Dazhynki” has acquired new traditions. Among them the solemn ceremony of presentation of awards to the best harvesting teams by the president of the country himself.

Another great tradition is that the host town renews with a wave of a wand.
Another pleasant tradition is to leave some significant building as a gift to the host town. For Bobruisk it is a modern palace of winter sports that will seat over 7,000 spectators. The president started his visit to Bobruisk with a short tour around the famous Bobruisk fortress. The palace will be located nearby, in a very picturesque spot. The head of state and young hockey players placed a capsule with a message under the foundation of the palace.

This was not Alexander Lukashenko’s only pleasant mission that day: the president was to award the winners of the harvesting contest, including the best operators of harvesters and tractors, agronomists, directors of farms, etc. They all received the appreciation of the whole country and nice prizes, like automobiles and computers.

According to Alexander Lukashenko, the festival played an essential role in the development of the Belarusian agribusiness over the past ten years, as it has encouraged farmers to set production records.

Besides, the festival helped beautify ten towns of the country, and with district “subsidiary” feasts the number of “newborn” towns now stands at 35.

The president appreciated the work of the Belarusian agribusiness. “The results are quite good. We managed to harvest over 6 million tonnes of grain, a Herculean task under the circumstances.” This is less than in 2005 and 2004, but with these adverse meteorological conditions it is a real victory, Alexander Lukashenko believes. If this had happened ten years ago, we would have been left without bread. The current achievements are possible because the country managed to resolve the main problems of the village — personnel and machinery — in due time. The villages received 14,500 tractors over the past 10 years.

There is even more to be done, though. The Belarusian agricultural sector is to reach the European level, both in work organization and standard of living, these two being the key tasks of the state village restoration program for five years to come.

…Every new festival is said to be better than the previous one. The Bobruisk “Dazhynki” was a huge success, and the 2007 host will certainly face a big challenge. The next festival will be held in Rechitsa.

When I was collecting information for this article I noticed a man that was taking notes in his notebook. I though he was a colleague and introduced myself, but he was no journalist. The man was on a business trip from the Gomel region, which will host “Dazhynki” next year, with a mission to take note of the fresh know-how that Bobruisk used. He invited me to visit Rechitsa in 2007 and promised that the guests of the festival would be very pleasantly surprised.

Valeria Stasova
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