15% of Russian Winter Crops Destroyed by Harsh Weather and Flooding - 7 March, 2003 - News

One of the Russian government's most important tasks is to create the conditions this year in which farming enterprises can work predictably and confidently. This was declared yesterday by Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov at a session of the Russian cabinet.

According to Kasyanov, a harsh winter and the natural disasters which occurred in many regions at the end of last year 'mean that this year spring work in the fields will require more preparation than usual.' In particular, 15% of arable land will have to be replanted. 'The financial position of agricultural producers is not stable, while the market prices for food and petrochemical products mean that agricultural producers are in great need of help to cover spring expenses incurred in field preparation and sowing work. The Russian government intends to provide financial support to regional agricultural enterprises,' said Kasyanov.

The Prime Minister also stressed the effectiveness of the state's policy for allocating budget resources, which are aimed at subsidising interest rates on loans to agricultural enterprises. In 2003 the budget will provide 2-3 billion roubles (USD 63-95 million) for these aims, which will allow enterprises to attract around 40 billion roubles (USD 1.27 billion) in cheap loans.

According to Kasyanov, the main development goals of the agro-industrial complex in the long and medium term will be discussed in detail at future cabinet meetings. He said that over 40 million people work in the agricultural sector, and that both their well-being and their very way of life would depend on the development of this sector.