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Belarus’ food export at $4.2bn so far this year

Aleksandr Subbotin. An archive photo

MINSK, 4 October (BelTA) – Belarus has exported $4.2 billion worth of food since the beginning of the year. Deputy Prime Minister of Belarus Aleksandr Subbotin made the statement on the air of the TV channel Belarus One, BelTA has learned.

Aleksandr Subbotin said: “We were slightly below $6 billion in 2020. We intend to greatly exceed this figure this year. In Q1-Q3 2021 we already exported $4.2 billion worth of food. The surplus considerably exceeded $1 billion.”

In his words, the taskforce in charge of smooth organization of field work gathered at premises of the Council of Ministers nearly every day last week. “It is primarily due to climatic conditions. We were ahead of the optimal schedule in early September but several weeks of incessant rains put a stop to it. We even fell slightly behind last year’s level and we had to work hard to catch up. We arranged round-the-clock sowing where we could. We intend to finish the main autumn sowing campaign by 5 October. In other words, 90-95% of the total volume will be done. We have to finish all the work across the country as a whole by 8 October,” the deputy prime minister said.

There has been a lot of talk about sugar shortages in retail in some parts of the country. “This panic buying is artificial. This year we’ve sowed more sugar beet than last year. Only 20% of the harvest has been gathered in so far and sugar refineries have just started processing it. The domestic market needs at least 360,000 tonnes of sugar per year and we will take care of it through government procurement contracts: we’ve sowed and will gather in 3 million tonnes of raw sugar beet as government buying in order to produce 360,000 tonnes of sugar. All the rest will be profit for our enterprises. They’ve sowed nearly 2 million tonnes of sugar beet as extra that will produce about 300,000 tonnes of sugar,” Aleksandr Subbotin continued. “It is our export potential. We make about 4,700 tonnes of sugar. Sugar consumption peaks at 1,200 tonnes when Belarusians make jam and tin foods for the winter. The average sugar consumption is about 800-900 tonnes.”

Aleksandr Subbotin stressed that many countries are interested in Belarusian sugar, including Russia, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan. “Last year we managed to sell sugar to China via government contracts. Chinese colleagues saw how thoroughly we honor commitments and offer quality sugar. They have increased purchases up to 30,000 tonnes this year,” he said.

Aleksandr Subbotin also talked about the availability of buckwheat on the Belarusian market. “This year we’ve sowed slightly more buckwheat in order to fully satisfy the domestic demand. Despite the lower yield we’ve gathered in nearly half already – 16,000 tonnes. About 27,000-30,000 tonnes can satisfy the domestic demand. I think we will be well supplied with our own buckwheat. I’d like to emphasize that buckwheat is not an export product for us. We grow it only for domestic consumption. We probably prioritize dairy industry for its high-margin products. This year we will get a 63kg increase per cow and on the average about 1-2% above last year’s figures. 2020 was quite a good year as far as dairy production is concerned. In other words, the output is steadily rising,” he said.


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