President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Patrushev, agriculture has been among the leaders in recent years. Last year was also quite successful too, the farmers performed excellently, as usual. You have already summed up the final results of last year.
Minister of Agriculture Dmitry Patrushev: Mr President, thank you very much.
If I may, I would like to report on last year’s performance. Based on the 2019 results, we expect an increase in agricultural production at a level of 4.1 percent. I have announced the tentative grain forecast for the year at the State Council meeting – 121 million tonnes. This forecast has been confirmed. It is 7.4 million tonnes more than a year earlier.
Overall, we have noted a steady growth in both the production volumes and the productivity of the majority of staple crops.
I will now briefly report on the harvesting of vegetables, fruit and berries. Those crops have been added to the new food security doctrine you recently signed. In general, we have rather good results regarding these. Russian farmers harvested about 14 million tonnes of vegetables in 2019.This is the best result ever in modern-day Russia.
Vladimir Putin: So what you’re saying is we are building up the segment that used to lag behind. We used to have a problem with vegetables.
Dmitry Patrushev: Yes, absolutely.
We had a slight problem, and we have it still, but things look positive, and the situation is changing for the better. Harvests are bigger, and we will soon be able to meet the domestic demand. The gross harvest of fruit and berries also set a new record in 2019, at 3.5 million tonnes.
Things also continue to look good when it comes to the food and processing industry. According to Rosstat operational data, in 2019, the food product index amounted to 104.9 percent, and beverages, 103.1 percent.
Now to livestock breeding: according to Rosstat data, in 2019 meat and poultry totalled 15.2 million tonnes live weight. This is better than in 2018.
We have also achieved good results in dairy production: 31.3 million tonnes, which is also higher than the year before.
In 2020, we expect an increase in meat and dairy production. It will be modest, but we will still see growth.
Mr President, now shortly about the current state of winter crops. This is important for our future harvest, the harvest of 2020. Despite warm weather in central Russia, 94 percent of our winter crops are in good or satisfactory condition. In fact, this is better than the average indicators over many years, which means the current state of winter crops is not bad. Still, it is too soon to make any forecasts. We will see what happens with winter crops when the snow melts.
In general, we have increased the acreage of our winter crops. Currently, we are getting ready for spring field work.
Vladimir Putin: How is the situation with resources?
Dmitry Patrushev: You know, we receive everything in time, in fact. We will cover 100 percent of our need in seeds by the beginning of the sowing campaign. We have enough fuel and mineral fertilisers to begin the spring sowing campaign; more than on the same date last year. In general, we are ready for the sowing season, but we will oversee the process so it goes well.
Mr President, I would also like to speak about exports. According to the 2019 preliminary results, the foreign agricultural trade is predicted to be a little over $25 billion. At the same time, the figure we have in our national project is $24 billion, which means we fulfilled our task for 2019. And I hope that next year will see a positive trend, too, and we will reach the number we have for 2020, $25 billion, too.
Let me note that despite a decrease of $2.7 billion in the total volume of grain exports in 2019, meaning the grain fell in price because the harvest was not as large as in other years, we provided sustainable growth in all other important areas.
It is also important to mention, regarding exports, that last year we opened 19 countries for our products. This January we opened another four countries for a number of products. And, of course, I think that the agreement with China is an important victory of ours, and since January our beef and turkey by-products can be exported to China.