Minnikhanov about 2021 harvest: ‘There won’t be serious changes if it starts raining’

The Tatarstan authorities are afraid of a repetition of the drought in 2010 and are preparing to ask for measures of federal support to provide food security

Minnikhanov about 2021 harvest: ‘There won’t be serious changes if it starts raining’
Photo: tatarstan.ru

The Tatarstan government is preparing to declare an emergency from 30 June due to crop failure because of the drought reigning in the Volga region. “We already consider that the situation is very complex and if we can consider, it means we declare,” claimed the republic’s President Rustam Minnikhanov at a meeting of the Commission for Prevention and Emergency Response and Fire Safety, which was convened urgently. The head of Tatarstan urged agricultural producers to buy 3,2 million tonnes of grains for their own needs because “today there is a chance” and purchase forage to save the amount of the dairy herd. It will be tough to compensate for the damage because about 10% of the fields are insured, said Tatarstan Minister of Agriculture and Food Marat Zyabbarov.

2010 again: no sense in waiting

The Tatarstan government is planning to declare an emergency across the republic because of the abnormally hot weather that has hurt a considerable part of fields. On 22 June, the republic’s President Rustam Minnikhanov chaired a meeting of the Commission for Prevention and Emergency Response and Fire Safety in the House of Government at which the possibility of declaring an emergency to save agricultural enterprises was discussed. The republic’s agriculturists have turned out in trouble because of the abnormally hot weather that has almost destroyed crops.

“The abnormally hot weather has a negative impact on the republic’s agriculture first of all,” noted the Tatarstan president in his welcome speech. “What happened in 2010 hasn’t yet repeated, but the situation is extreme enough.”

However, a delay in declaring an emergency is rather technical. According to him, additional time is given to audit existing reserves before the declaration. “We already saw this in 2010 when there was a severe drought. We know it is already late to hope for the better. There is no way back. We should prepare for the situation we have. Even if it starts raining, it will help perhaps, but there won't be serious changes," the Tatarstan president is sure.

It should be reminded that in 2020, during the abnormally hot weather, Tatarstan collected just 750,000 tonnes of the grain harvest.

The republic’s agriculturists have turned out in trouble because of the abnormally hot weather. Photo: tatarstan.ru

Tatarstan seized by drought again

However, head of the Office of Hydrometeorology and Environment Monitoring of Tatarstan Sergey Zakharov was the first to offer to declare an emergency. According to him, today hot dry weather is reigning in the republic, while the temperature of the air is 9 degrees above annual summer averages.

“Today we have abnormal weather conditions from a perspective of dangerous occurrences. The fire danger in forests is at the level of 4-5, average air temperatures have been 9 degrees higher, which is a dangerous occurrence,” he stated.

He forecasts that the temperature will stay high at least until 27 June, up to 36 degrees. Moreover, without any precipitation since May, which complicates the vegetation of crops.

Hot weather across Volga region

Tatarstan weathermen are monitoring the state of all cultures, grains and industrial, perennial plants. They are being overseen by 22 hydrometeorological stations. Also, the agency is preparing a preliminary and definite forecast for harvest and is sending the information to Russia’s Ministry of Agriculture. “We have informed that we have has such weather conditions, and I think it is correct to declare an emergency in the current conditions,” Sergey Zakharov concluded.

“I think it is correct to declare an emergency in the current conditions,” Sergey Zakharov concluded. Photo: tatarstan.ru

Minnikhanov wondered which regions were also suffering from the hot weather, the neighbours’ situation.

“The situation is tense across the Volga region. A similar picture is seen in Bashkortostan. There was some precipitation there too, there is a general deficit in the atmosphere, there is a shortage of humidity for the rain to start pouring down. Such a picture is both in the west and east. But the situation in Nizhny Novgorod is different,” Zakharov outlined the scale of the heatwave.

“This topic needs to be raised in the Russian government, it is necessary to reach out to the Russian Ministry of Agriculture,” the president replied.

Only 10% of crops insured

Tatarstan Vice Premier and Minister of Agriculture and Food Marat Zyabbarov didn’t make any interim evaluations of the area damaged by the hot weather and drought. Neither did he provide estimates of the possible damage. He said that costs on the sowing were 28 billion rubles, or 9,000 rubles per hectare.

Insurance against dangerous weather occurrences could soften the situation but about 10% of crops are protected by this mechanism. According to the Tatarstan Ministry of Agriculture, only three households are insured. “They can legally apply for insurance to compensate for the loss if the dangerous occurrence is confirmed,” Zyabbarov said.

Marat Zyabbarov didn’t make any interim evaluations of the area damaged by the hot weather and drought. Photo: tatarstan.ru

According to him, a new type of insurance against emergencies has been introduced since this year, which allows compensating for up to 80% of the damage. “I am urging the directors of agricultural enterprises to use this,” he said and reminded the audience that in 2019 households managed to get only 120 million rubles.

“There is 50% forage supply, this is according to the papers”

The minister was concerned about forage the most and even urged Tatarstan agricultural producers to buy grain while there is time. According to him, Tatarstan’s domestic grain consumption is 3,2 million tonnes. 2,2 million tonnes are used for husbandry, 400,000 tonnes — for flour, 150,000 tonnes — for alcohol, he enumerated. He directly recommended flour companies to start buying grain now in Tatarstan and outside. He recommended our producers to sell the grain only inside the republic and didn’t start sales in other regions.

“We’ve talked with the neighbouring regions about who can prepare forage, we will contact them, agree with them on prices, we keep seed supplies under control,” Zyabbarov assured the Tatarstan president. The State Council’s Vice Speaker Marat Akhmetov reminded them that 15 billion rubles were spent in 2010 to buy forage, while potato had to be imported from Belarus and Bryansk.

“There is 50% forage supply, this is according to the papers you gave,” the Tatarstan president replied. He tasked them with addressing the issue seriously. “You are responsible for this,” he warned addressing Zyabbarov. “You have a week. We need to have guaranteed areas.”

The final decision on the declaration of an emergency will be made on 30 June, the Tatarstan president claimed after the meeting ended. Photo: tatarstan.ru

The Tatarstan president urged them to hurry up with purchases. “Today there is a chance, then there will be nowhere to go,” Minnikhanov warned again.

“Now we are discussing if we should declare an emergency,” the Tatarstan president continued explaining. “Now several days should pass. It is necessary to mobilise all reserves, provide forage wintering and we should think what we will give households, they are our people too.”

In his opinion, it is necessary to get rid of dreams of buying all sorts of things, it is necessary to focus on the essentials. “Because they offer to prolong this, buy machinery... We will buy it! Today the situation isn’t the best, today we should think of where we will get forage and how we will winter, how we will save the livestock of private households,” Minnikhanov said.

The final decision on the declaration of an emergency will be made on 30 June, the Tatarstan president claimed after the meeting ended.

An emergency is supposed to be declared by the end of the hot weather, Marat Zyabbarov explained to Realnoe Vremya. According to attendees, the declaration of emergency will enable to get support from the federal centre, buy grains from the federal fund for those who deal with husbandry and breeds poultry as well as processing plants and flour mills in the Tatarstan districts affected by the heatwave.

By Luiza Ignatyeva
Tatarstan