GOMEL, 25 November (BelTA) - Only with hard work can we reverse the negative trends in the agricultural sector of Gomel Oblast, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko said at a meeting to discuss the development of the agricultural industry of Gomel Oblast on 25 November, BelTA has learned.
“The tasks remain the same, complex. New challenges emerge. You in Gomel Oblast are experiencing these challenges more than anyone else in Belarus. However, despite this, we will have a serious conversation with the leadership and active representatives of the region today. As far as I understand, those who are present here today work in the agro-industrial complex of Gomel Oblast. And probably not only them. That was my instruction. I want to warn you right away: this is going to be a serious conversation,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said at the start of the meeting.
The head of state noted that he had to announce his visit to Gomel in advance in order to deal in detail with the state of affairs in the agro-industrial complex of the region. “You had time to prepare and report today, and we will all decide together how we will move forward. After this meeting each of you should go back to your district or farm to work very hard and diligently, with full dedication. You will demand the same from your personnel. There is no other way to reverse the negative trends in the agricultural sector of the region,” the president stressed.
On the importance of agriculture
"We constantly talk about the importance of food security and the agricultural sector. Maybe someone has already had enough of it. But we made sure that we were right to focus on food production. This proved true for Belarus and foreign countries," Aleksandr Lukashenko said. "This year, our country has rolled up its sleeves, figuratively speaking, and produced a decent result."
The president recalled that the other day he took part in the CSTO summit in Armenia where the heads of state primarily discussed military and political cooperation. "All heads of state spoke about food security. This shows that there is a very serious tension with food in the world. And it will get worse. We know who benefits from this, and who the beneficiaries are. We understand this very well," the Belarusian leader said.
On achievements and failures
This year Minsk Oblast cropped over 2 million tonnes of grain, Grodno Oblast and Brest Oblast gathered 1.5 million tonnes each, Vitebsk Oblast and Mogilev Oblast crossed a one-million threshold. At the same time, the task for the central region of the country for next year is to crop three million tonnes of grain, the head of state.
“What is the contribution of Gomel Oblast to the country's harvest? Unfortunately, there is nothing to be proud of. We passed the one-millionth milestone here only including maize. How are things with meat and milk production? The whole country is moving forward, and you are moving back,” the president remarked.
The head of state was briefed that if Gomel Oblast had reached at least the level of the previous year, Belarus would have registered the growth of 4% in agriculture this year. “Do you hope to reach growth across all the indicators in November-December? Or do you hope that other regions will work hard for you? Such an approach of the Gomel Oblast agricultural industry led to the loss of profit of about Br100 million. This is big money. It is especially regrettable that we have had such a situation for more than just one year,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko.
Over the past five years agricultural production in the region went down by more than 13%. At the same time the country in general posted a 4% growth. “I know all your excuses - the weather (drought or rains), the low land quality (sand or wind or something else). I would like to say: you are not the only one who blames these circumstances. This is the same everywhere. But there is not the same result everywhere, or rather the absence of a result, as in Gomel Oblast. I understand, as you do, that there are objective circumstances beyond our control. There are such factors. Do you take into account local peculiarities of soil composition in Gomel Oblast? Do you know how to adjust to climatic conditions? These climatic conditions did not come upon us all of a sudden. How fast do you take decisions on the transition to the optimal structure of sowing areas?” the president asked.
On the human factor
The head of state also asked about the opinion of agricultural scientists about the reserves of the region and whether these recommendations are followed in the region, what measures have been taken and which ones have not and why. “Scientists should clearly say today which areas they recommend for Gomel Oblast, which ones have been tested in practice and should be applied there. We do not need scientists just to read lectures. We have heard enough of lectures; we need practice,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
“In addition, how are things with what is influenced solely by the human factor? In technology compliance, fertilizer application, cropping pattern, prevention of livestock mortality (all sorts of lies bordering on crime - we will also talk about it today), preparations for the season, safety of farm equipment. Before dreaming big, we must take what is on the surface. This has to do with the human factor. This starts from the most basic things which are labor and performance discipline and law abidance,” the president stressed.
Virtually all the inspected farms have violations in livestock breeding. Every fourth farm has had the facts of presenting false information about livestock mortality. One third of the agricultural organizations violate the technology of fodder storage. “Farms are in a mess, with constant false reporting and theft. Any distortion of statistics leads to a wrong decision. These are disastrous mistakes not only for Gomel Oblast, but for the entire country. That is why any statistical report is the most important element in the management of the state. I do not understand why you lie at all. Who needs this lie? It is easy to verify,” said the head of state.
“When I made the decision to send the agriculture and food minister [Ivan Krupko] to you, I thought that he would come and put things in order, first of all, in agriculture. He also worked in agriculture, headed successful districts in Minsk Oblast and then worked as a minister. He has everything he needs, both experience and competence. He has knowledge. What else do you need? What better specialist can I send here? A lot depends on you, on how you will stand next to him and help carry this heavy burden,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
On freedom and independence
“Believe me, we are living in a crunch time: either we retain our state, or we need to consider other options, but count me out in the latter case. We have been nurturing our state for 30 years because we wanted our children to live freely, independently. If someone understands this freedom and independence (this does not apply to you, but to our people in general) as an opportunity to do whatever they want or not to do anything at all – this is not going to happen in any country. Freedom and independence mean having opportunities,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.
The president noted that he was raised in a very humble environment, in the hardest years. “Back then people (adults, including my mother) dreamed of their children getting a decent education, having the same opportunities as children of ministers, colonels, generals, professors, academicians, and so on. Have we not succeeded in achieving such a situation? We have. Even more than that. Being fully aware of the state of things in rural schools, we introduced employer-sponsored programs for graduates of rural schools. Anyone who wants to get education can do it. There was nothing like that in the Soviet Union. We provide even greater support to children from remote villages, especially from the areas affected by the Chernobyl disaster,” the head of state said.
“What else do you need? If you want to live under someone's yoke, go ahead and do it. But in this case no one will bother to talk to you in such a manner. They will take a whip and you will run ahead. You will turn up your toes, and suffer a serious setback. This already happened to us 80 years ago: they tried to demonstrate their treatment. And they delivered such a heavy blow on Belarus that we still feel the aftermath. We are at a pivotal point. You in Gomel Oblast know how it feels, because this is happening next to you. Yet, this is just a taste of what could come. I don't want our children to have to take a gun and go to defend their country. I absolutely don't want it. If any of you want it, stand up and say and we will give you what you need to do it. I believe it's better that we gird our loins, work hard and produce results,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
On a litmus test for Gomel Oblast
“I just want to warn you all in a friendly way: the upcoming year 2023 will be a litmus test for you. You can't go on like this, and we won't. Therefore, think about how you will live and earn money,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.
“Of course, I have options. One of them is: you get what you earn. And we will be bringing you to accept this. I cannot take away financial resources from other industries and give them to Gomel Oblast. Therefore, you need to think what you will do to deliver results,” the president demanded.
On the moment of truth
The head of state emphasized that agriculture has unique opportunities today. The demand for products is big and the prices are high. For Belarus, which had a record harvest this year, the situation is just the right one. “God has spared us, and we have produced an excellent result in the country's agriculture this year. Before, we didn't know what to do and where to sell. Today, we do not even need to look for clients. They offer good money for products. Sell, earn and improve the situation in Gomel Oblast. No one bothers you, and I will only protect you in this. But you have to earn that money first,” the president said.
“You are taking too long to settle down to do anything. You think it is going to stay that way. Today is the moment of truth. Markets are waiting for you. And not only in Russia. China is ready to consume great amounts of products,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko.
The head of state noted that, as he was informed, dealers cash in on Belarusian goods: they buy products at Belarusian enterprises for notional two rubles and sell them in Russia for nine rubles. The president demanded the companies to develop their trade networks and to be engaged in sales themselves. “We will deal with the matter and protect you, but you also have to work to look decent and earn money. Today you can earn money,” the president is convinced.
The head of state said that nothing is free: Gomel Oblast will have to pay for both equipment and land reclamation. “You have a chance today. After today's meeting you will see what to do proceeding from the real situation. Do not forget that winter is the start of next year. If you fail this time, there will be no need to dream, as the minister reported to me, of a 30% growth in crop production and 18-20% in livestock next year. We can not fail during the winter period,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko.
On personnel and discipline
The president said that he always asks new managers to give a chance to their employees. However if there are no results, it is necessary to make personnel decisions. Those who are simply out of place should find new jobs, but tough decisions should be made on those who behave in a hostile manner,” the head of state said.
Recently, the oblast executive committees have been instructed to develop their personnel policy. “If you work well, you get benefits, respect, and honor. If you don't want to work, we'll try to teach you and make you work. If you cannot do anything at all – then go away,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko. “Without discipline and order, without technological discipline, there is nothing to talk about,” he added.
It is necessary to make personnel decisions to ensure progress of the region, the president said. “New heads have been recently appointed in a number of districts of Gomel Oblast. I hope people will work well,” he added.
“As for our today's event, do not expect any monstrous consequences from it. Yes, this was a serious conversation. The main thing is the following: there will be no more persuasion, no more talks with Gomel residents (just like with Mogilev and Vitebsk residents). You know what to do. You have made up your mind. Most importantly, you need to move and act. Do not wait for someone to give you money or buy you a new tractor or a truck,” said the head of state. “We need a plan today. Everything should be spelled out in it in detail, including activities, responsible persons, deadlines and resources. We need a plan for the development of the agro-industrial complex of Gomel Oblast, similar to those of the other regions.”