President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues,
Today we will discuss the current situation in agriculture, one of the main industries of our economy.
According to recent reports – the Agriculture Minister will report on that – the harvest this year will be good, with records for some crops.
As of today, 138.7 million tonnes of grain have been harvested. This is approximately one third more than in the same period last year. According to experts, the total grain harvest may reach 150 million tonnes. We spoke about 140, 145 and later 147 million tonnes, but the preliminary estimate is 150 million tonnes, including about 100 million tonnes of wheat. It will be the largest harvest in Russia’s history.
I would like to remind you that in 2017 we harvested 135.5 million tonnes. In 1978, the RSFSR harvested 127 million tonnes.
In other words, despite the current complicated conditions, we will undoubtedly meet the domestic demand for major crops and will also harvest additional volumes to increase exports.
Today I expect you to report on the progress of the harvesting campaign, the problems our large companies and private farms may be facing, and the practical effect of state support measures, including those taken within the framework of the decisions adopted at our meeting in April, when we agreed to additionally allocate over 150 billion rubles to support working capital funding and investment loans. This obviously helped us to harvest record crops.
Following that meeting, we also updated the Strategy for the Development of Agriculture and Fisheries for the period up to 2030. It was approved by the Government only recently, on September 8.
The main goal of this strategy is to ensure the development of agriculture and the food industry as modern and robust industries with higher annual growth rates than the average in the national economy.
I would like to repeat that we formulated ambitious goals. They have to do with reliably ensuring the country’s food security now and in the long term.
We must continue to increase production, both to satisfy the domestic demand for affordable high-quality goods and to increase exports.
Let me note that supplies of our grain and fertilisers to foreign countries are still being hampered, unfortunately – unfortunately not even for us, but for the world food market. Sanctions against Russia threaten to cause further deterioration of the situation not short of a global food crisis, which the world has been heading towards for a number of years now. This is absolutely unrelated to Russia’s special military operation in Donbass. Certain leading countries have so structured their financial and food policies that we are now witnessing what has resulted from them. The so-called collective West is, of course, fully responsible for this outcome.
Let us have a look. The world food prices are now what they were at the start of this year, and yet they are 40 percent higher than in 2020. And this is the direct consequence of what are, without any exaggeration, predatory policies conducted by the world’s richest countries, which continue buying up food, a practice based, among other things, on uninterrupted money printing.
For example, at the end of the second quarter of this year, food exports to the United States reached, in annual terms, US$218.6 billion against US$185.1 billion last year. Importantly, US imports are exceeding exports by US$22.3 billion, whereas in previous years, exports surpassed imports. This means that today, the United States is importing more food from world markets than it sells internationally.
In this context, grain from Ukraine continues slipping past the poorest countries. We keep pointing this out, but all in vain, no one hears us. As of September 23, only four ships out of 203 that left Ukrainian ports have sailed to the poorest countries under a United Nations programme. Fourteen ships out of 46 dispatched from Monday to Friday last week indicated the intermediary nation, Turkiye, as their destination, while 25 ships out of the remaining 32 were sent to the European Union. Are they the poorest countries? The situation here is not changing at all. It’s a… I feel embarrassed to say this, it’s a swindle through and through, nothing more and nothing less.
To reiterate: the West is provoking a global food crisis. In these conditions, we must ensure our food security under Russia’s Agriculture Development Strategy by reducing our dependence on imports, including those of equipment, machinery and seeds.
And, of course, the most important thing is to consistently and tangibly improve the wellbeing of millions of our citizens who live in rural areas. Everything is important, from modernisation and construction of new, advanced social and transport facilities to the implementation of such popular programmes as rural mortgages.
I want to emphasise again that additional revenue that the development of agriculture provides needs to go, first and foremost, towards supporting our people who work in rural areas. I am talking about tangibly improving their wellbeing and quality of life.
I want to address the regional heads and heads of agricultural enterprises. Agricultural workers may be called up during the partial mobilisation. It is necessary to provide support to their families. I ask you to focus on this issue, and I am addressing not only those governors who are taking part in today’s meeting, but all governors in Russia, all leaders. Let us begin our work.
Vladimir Putin: Thank you very much; I also want to thank the Minister, all meeting participants, and all heads of the regions that are currently engaged in agricultural work, and above all, agrarians, all people who work in rural areas because it is their labour that yields these results.
Something I would like to say in conclusion. Of course, today, during the special military operation and referendums in Donbass, saving the people in these territories that are holding the referendums is the priority and focus of all our society, our whole country. It is only natural because there have been dramatic events.
But a well-known, simple and fundamental law, which is summed up in a popular saying, “bread is the staff of life,” has never been abandoned. And maybe, amid the current conditions we are living in today, this law is one of the most important ones, given the situation on the global food markets. So I want to thank you for everything you have done so far.
I want to express confidence and hope that we will conclude all harvesting works and do everything we can to reach good results during the spring and autumn sowing campaigns. We have all the necessary means for that, and the work is in full swing. I wish everybody good luck.
Thank you for today’s joint work. Thank you.