Before the meeting, the President visited several farms and met with Rostov Region’s agribusiness representatives.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Colleagues, good afternoon,
We have gathered to discuss issues pertaining to agriculture development. These meetings are traditional for us both at the Cabinet level and with my participation – it is traditional for us to meet following the harvest.
I will note straight away that additional opportunities opened up for Russian agriculture after the introduction of a ban on food products from a number countries, with additional momentum for growing and strengthening the positions of our agricultural producers on the domestic market. We have been discussing this nonstop recently, and rightly so; we need to stress it so everybody understands. But I want to say something I have already repeated many times: this window of opportunity will close one day, so sooner or later, these restrictions from both sides will end anyway. Thus, we need to take advantage of this moment now, in order to stand firmly in our own market. And we certainly have the potential to do this.
In recent years, major investment projects are being implemented in the sector, and companies are being re-equipped. Overall, Russia’s agricultural sector is showing positive dynamics. In the first 8 months of this year, the sector’s productivity increased by nearly 2%.
Additional opportunities opened up for Russian agriculture after the introduction of a ban on food products from a number countries, with additional momentum for growing and strengthening the positions of our agricultural producers on the domestic market.
We can already talk about certain preliminary results of the harvesting campaign. We have good indicators for grain harvest: it is expected that we will grind about 100 million tonnes. Last year, we had a little more, 105 million, but 100 million is still a very good indicator. It means that we can meet all domestic needs and maintain our export potential.
According to the forecasts, we will harvest more grain maize than last year, as well as sugar beets, potatoes and soybeans. Meat and poultry production will grow by 5.9%. These are certainly good results.
At the same time, we also have reserves for increasing agro-industrial sector efficiency and implementing new capacities, thus reaching a qualitatively new level.
According to estimates, the volume of agricultural product imports will decrease by 40% in 2015. And we can make the most of it: implement the import substitution programme in a timely manner, increasing the production of agricultural products and strengthening our nation’s food security and food independence.
Here are a few special points I would like to note. First of all, in recent years, Russia has been one of the biggest grain and vegetable oil exporters in the world. At the same time, we need to enter new niches, work more actively to ensure access to external markets for Russian pork and poultry. We have enormous potential here.
As far as poultry is concerned, the governor will speak and talk about what has been done in Rostov Region recently. This is truly a success story.
In this respect, I suggest looking into possible mechanisms for supporting our producers with help from the Russian Export Centre, which was created on the basis of Vnesheconombank. I also ask the Agriculture Ministry to look into dedicating a separate area in the state agriculture development programme for supporting exports.
Russia has been one of the biggest grain and vegetable oil exporters in the world. We need to enter new niches, work more actively to ensure access to external markets for Russian pork and poultry.
Second, Russia largely meets the domestic demand for pork and poultry on its own. As for cattle, we know that with beef, things do not look as good as we would like them to. This is despite the fact that in recent years, various state support measures and regional programmes have been launched in this area.
Today, I propose that we talk about how they measure up.Overall, I would like to hear your suggestions on increasing the efficiency of beef cattle breeding.
Third, there are difficulties with supply to the domestic vegetable and fruit market, especially during winter. We have already discussed this with colleagues while visiting the farms: we clearly have great potential here.
Overall, the problems are well known. It is important to create conditions to increase profitability from greenhouse vegetable production, improve vegetable storage infrastructure and develop selected seed farms and centres.
And, of course, we need stricter monitoring over the quality of fruit and vegetables imported into Russia, fighting unfair competition on the domestic market. We have brought together experts and we don’t need to go on and on. Nevertheless, I will say that if we do not monitor the quality of imports but take a rigorous approach to the quality of our own products, we are once again putting our producers under non-competitive conditions.
Fourth, it is imperative to broaden access to retail chains for domestic producers and create modern, civilised trade infrastructure. I am once again asking the Agriculture Ministry to give this their most careful attention.
We must make the most of the agricultural imports decrease: implement the import substitution programme in a timely manner, increase agricultural production and strengthen our nation's food security and food independence.
The government has allocated significant budget resources toward supporting agriculture in recent years. I have stressed this many times and want to say it again today: it is imperative to ensure prompt delivery of these resources to specific producers, including farm enterprises.
Let’s talk about these and other issues that you feel are important. Let’s begin our work.