Marat Akhmetov on loss of 1,5bn winter grains: “Our tears won’t be considered without documents”

The head of the Ministry of Agriculture on the compensation for the loss on the republic’s fields, the 2019 sowing and harvest forecast

Marat Akhmetov on loss of 1,5bn winter grains: “Our tears won’t be considered without documents” Photo: Maksim Platonov

The Ministry of Agriculture of Tatarstan hopes to offset 1,5bn rubles – the assessed sum of the dead winter cereals from the budget money. For this purpose, it’s necessary to prove with documents that winter grains really failed, head of the ministry Marat Akhmetov told Realnoe Vremya’s correspondent. The losses total about 20% of all areas sowed with crops. Due to the situation with winter grains, on 2 May, Rustam Minnikhanov declared an emergency state. Meanwhile, sowing goes on in the republic, the area of sowing will be 2,8m ha. By the minister’s estimate, the most works in all districts are to be completed by 10 May.

Emergency mode

There is about 150,000 ha of dead winter cereals in the republic. This is why the president charged with declaring an emergency mode on 2 May to mobilise ministries, municipal districts, Marat Akhmetov began:

“We entered winter very anxiously, water availability was low. But spring helped us. Most winter precipitation went into the soil, and we recovered the average annual volume of water in the metre-deep layer. And we hope very much this year we will have a good harvest.”

According to the minister, the dry autumn brought to a bad harvest in big areas: “The number of sprouts was low, we even didn’t have any sprouts, especially in the so-called Buinsk zone – 7-8 districts – even the sprouts that emerged didn’t accumulate any sugar to provide their own wintering, we have a big number of dead winter grains in those areas.”

There is about 150,000 ha of dead winter grains in the republic. Photo: agro.tatarstan.ru

Hope for help

The ministry assesses the losses at about 1,5 billion rubles – it’s costs on last year’s sowing, seeds, diesel fuel, and “we will have to carry the same costs to sow spring crops on these fields.”

Akhmetov hopes to offset this sum from the budget money. However, there is no guarantee. In answer to Realnoe Vremya’s correspondent’s question, the minister claimed that at first they needed to get documentary evidence that winter grains really died:

“We need documentary evidence that we had such losses. Plus the Meteorological Centre confirmed that winter cereals died. But at the moment nobody guarantees that somebody will compensate us our 1,5bn losses, but neither any ministry nor the Ministry of Agriculture will consider our tears without documentary evidence of this state. We need to understand how much money has to be spent to use these areas again, to cultivate them, find seeds, fertilisers, find resources and resow them. We would like to find some sources of mitigation of losses at least on frozen areas. At the same time we need to fix every dead field.”

Sowing campaign plans

According to him, winter fields are already inventoried, while on 8 May Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov began a traditional flight to the fields. Documentary evidence is also already obtained: “According to the president’s instruction, we are given time – to do this job for five days, and we are completing this job today,” the minister noted. In accordance with this instruction signed by Minnikhanov, the term given to taking measures to overcome the regime and consequences of the emergency situation expired on 8 May, but Akhmetov didn’t share the plans.

Winter fields are already inventoried, while on 8 May Tatarstan President Rustam Minnikhanov began a traditional flight to the fields. Photo: tatarstan.ru

As the republic is big, it covers different climate zones, this is why the sowing is different, he went on: “Sowing in some districts will already complete by the Victory Day. The task is to complete major works across the republic by 10 May.”

The minister noted that the republic had money for the spring campaign. It’s estimated at 25bn rubles: “A considerable part of them is borrowed money, about 11bn rubles. We did in time, about 5,5bn were given before the spring field works began. It’s different spendings, even milk subsidies.”

I am blaming nobody

“There was complete drought across the Volga region: Spassk, Alekseyevsk, Alki, Nurlat, Aksubayevo Districts also had a huge deficit of water, and we got sprouts very late. In addition, winter rye is, to tell the truth, is a more enduring crop, emerged better than winter wheat even here,” Akhmetov said.

Since wheat costs 1,5 times more, it’s clear that households prefer it over rye: “I am blaming nobody if somebody likes wheat. At the same time we could have saved water as early as in spring – there is a set of technologies, and where people managed to get good early sprouts and where the sprouts had the time to blossom, prepare to winter accumulating enough sugar they grew better.” These technologies managed to provide better maturation of winter grains in Zainsk, Sarmanovo, Tukay, Menzelinsk and Aznakayevo Districts: “Mainly it’s the districts where Agrosila works,” Akhmetov concluded.

Despite the critical situation, the minister is sure that bread prices will be the same. Akhmetov said in answer to Realnoe Vremya’s correspondent’s question: “Though everyone asks me this question, my share of bread price is just 15-20% of flour price. 80% is formed due to other reasons.

Probably it’s technological reasons of enterprises, their load because bread consumption falls year after year.” Akhmetov reminded that they had been baking up to 1,5 kg of bread a day per capita several decades ago, nowadays consumption has reduced to 250 g of bread a day: “The enterprises used during the previous decades are now 30-40% full. This also affects the prime cost.”

Despite the critical situation, the minister is sure that bread prices will be the same. Photo: vzsar.ru

Insurance of crops

This year the Federal Ministry of Agriculture paid more attention to the insurance of crops, Akhmetov said. According to him, this work has been a bit neglected in the last years due to the unfeasibility of insurance issues for agricultural producers – it was nearly impossible to get insurance recoveries: “Now given the changes made to the law on agricultural insurance, agricultural enterprise has got a chance to choose variants of insurance events, count on something in any unpleasant year.”

The minister also shared prospects for berry planting. In the next 2-3 years, the republic will be able to fully provide itself with stone fruit crops, he promised. As for vegetables, the situation is favourable here – they don’t suffer from drought, the head of the Ministry of Agriculture assured. It’s planned to sow 5,900 ha of potato in 2019 (by 0,300 ha less than in 2018), as many field vegetables as last year will be planted – 2,300 ha.

By Leysan Nabiyeva
Tatarstan