Smolevichi District, 2 September (BelTA) – During a trip to Smolevichi District, Minsk Oblast on 31 August, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko inspected potato harvesting on a field of the Ozeritsky-Agro company and praised the quality of Belarusian potatoes, BelTA has learned.
The head of state was informed that this year Belarusian potatoes have great sales prospects abroad. Serbia, Macedonia, Uzbekistan and other countries are ready to buy Belarusian potatoes.
The president upheld the idea to boost the export of potatoes, however, he recalled that the number one objective is to meet the domestic demand. “Before you undertake a marketing push, you need to put enough potatoes in food reserves, so that you will have enough to sell next year. Do not forget about seed potatoes. What remains can be sold abroad, you can go ahead and embark on a marketing campaign. So far the marketing effort is inadequate. These potatoes are really good, the quality is superb,” the president said.
“A great job was done by our researchers, the Academy of Sciences, our farmers. They have learned to grow good varieties,” Aleksandr Lukashenko underlined. He added that he planted many of the new varieties on his subsidiary plot and was happy with them. “These new varieties are absolutely amazing,” he said.
All in all, he praised the work of domestic plant breeders and agricultural scientists. It is important to stick to the technology, because in this case the yield will be good in any weather and on any soil. “I keep track of what researchers do. They have done a great job as far as wheat is concerned. I have sandy soil on a hill and a boggy place in the bottom. I chose an area in between. Scientists worked well on it. There was no weed. Despite heavy rains, the yield was 92 centners per hectare,” the head of state noted.
Aleksandr Lukashenko is convinced that other countries choose to buy Belarusian potatoes because of their good quality, not only because the harvests were poor there. “They know that these are the best potatoes. Potato cultivation has always been our specialization. New varieties developed in vitro are excellent. They were studied in laboratories in Russia and Belarus. The potato varieties developed in other countries are not so good. Some ten years ago, we also struggled and finally dropped the ball on it. However, later on we embarked on the work to improve potato varieties,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
The president reiterated that it is important to stick to the potato sales strategy that he set out: at first it is necessary to meet the domestic demand and fill in potato reserves; when it is done the remaining potatoes can be sold abroad. “If farmers have extra, the Belkoopsoyuz procurement company should buy this all out and help sell potatoes. Collective farms should buy and sell potatoes using the existing distribution channels. Everyone needs potatoes this year and prices are good,” he said.
The head of state also spoke about potato deliveries to Ukraine, as the country suffered a drought that caused substantial damage to crops. “We need to help Ukraine, as they had a drought. Maybe, the Ukrainian president will also ask for seed potatoes,” the president said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko was shown various potato varieties developed by Belarusian researchers. One of advantages of these varieties is a reduced content of nitrates. “We pay attention to this aspect, too,” Director General of the Scientific and Practical Center for Potato, Vegetable and Fruit Growing of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus Vadim Makhanko said.
He added that new potato varieties and new potato farming solutions are tested on fields of Tolochin Cannery. “This is our company, 1,000 hectares of potatoes,” he said. The cannery embarked on the construction of a shop floor to produce French fries.
“Traditions are a good thing, but we need to move forward. Many people have changed their attitude to potatoes. Some want potatoes that can be boiled soft, others appreciate other qualities in potatoes. We have learned to produce high-quality potatoes that also look good; we have learned to develop a great deal of varieties. Our next challenge is to learn to sell them with maximum added value. Our task for now is to find other markets for potatoes in addition to the Russian one. Our farmers have sharpened their focus on quality. Processing generates the biggest added value. This should be our area of focus in the future,” the researcher said.
“We need to do it. He is absolutely right. We have revived potatoes [as a crop]. Now we need to work out the kinks, process them and sell to consumers. It is great that you did not let potato cultivation perish. They told me: why do we need these potato research centers. It is easy to ruin something but difficult to revive it. Keep it up and give us new varieties,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.