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Medvedev discusses drought situation with Volgograd governor

July 31, 2012, 23:07 UTC+3

According to governor Bozhenov, the region is highly unlikely to harvest one million tons of grain this year

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ILOVLYA, Volgograd region, July 31 (Itar-Tass) —— Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medevedv on Tuesday met with governor of Russia’s southern Volgograd region Sergei Bozhenov to discuss the situation with drought.

“I did not know that the situation in some of your region’s districts is very much like the one on 2010, and about a fourth of the harvest is lost,” Medvedev said. “It is necessary to take decisions both on the Volgograd region and on neighboring Kalmykia, where the situation is still worse, and on other regions of the country.”

According to the governor, drought has affected 660,000 hectares of crops.

The prime minister also noted that not only crops suffer from drought but farmers as well. In such periods, incomes drops so much that people opt to leave for other regions.

“It is necessary to think how to support them, to look at some additional investment possibilities, I mean that the agricultural sector is very cyclical and we must think how to diversify the agricultural business so that people had jobs when the harvest is poor. And to offer some support,” Medvedev said. “I believe the region should have such a program. If all machine operators quit, there will be no one to work later on.”

According to Bozhenov, the region is highly unlikely to harvest one million tons of grain this year. “Our region is located in the area of risk farming, but there is a way out for vegetable farming – land reclamation practices. In the hard times, this system was plundered. Land reclamation is a guarantee of our harvest, despite any droughts that might occur,” he said.

In the mid-1970s, lands were irrigated in 22 districts of the region, whereas irrigation practices are used only in 11 districts, he noted. “We tried to solve this problem ourselves. In 2011, maximal funds from the local budget were invested to develop the irrigation system in the region but we hope for support from the federal authorities,” the Volgograd governor stressed.

“If we manage to restore the land reclamation system at least to the level that existed until the 1990s, the region will be able to increase agricultural output and gain leading positions in the country,” he noted.

According to the governor, the region is ready to take part in federal sectoral programs on conditions of co-financing. Thus, he said, the region plans to allocate annually from 200 to 410 million roubles from the regional budget to the land reclamation program till the year 2015. “We are determined to revive land reclamation practices, we understand that we cannot do without them,” he emphasized.

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