MOSCOW, December 12 (Itar-Tass) —— President Vladimir Putin’s Address to the Federal Assembly has for the first time set ambitious agricultural plans, Nadezhda Shkolkina, deputy head of the Duma Committee on Agrarian Issues, said on Wednesday, December 12.
“The Address to the Federal Assembly is permeated with the idea of strong Russia and patriotism. For the first time Russia has set such ambitious plans for agro-industrial sector. In his Address, the president noted that 55 percent of the world’s fertile land is in Russia. Using these resources we should not only feed ourselves but also supply organic food to the rest of the world,” the MP said.
“We should create an agency for promoting Russian products to foreign markets, including organic food made in Russia, which is especially relevant within the WTO and the European Union,” she said.
Shkolkina recalled that the relevant draft law has already been worked out by members of the United Russia faction together with the Ministry of Agriculture.
“Let me say that the president placed a special emphasis on stimulation of entrepreneurial activities, reduction of loan interest rates and on tax preferences. All this is more that relevant for agriculture,” she said.
“The president also proposed that starting in 2013 we should use a part of money from the National Welfare Fund to invest in Russian securities related to infrastructure projects and up to 100 billion roubles can be invested in securities already in 2013,” Shkolkina said.
“I think that 10 percent of this money could be invested in the development of rural infrastructure, which would have appositive effect on social development in rural areas,” she said.
Commenting on Putin’s remark that “55 percent of the world’s fertile land is in our country”, the chairman of the Duma Agrarian Committee, Nikolai Pankov of United Russia, said “we should use these resources in order to ensure our independence with regard to all basic foods in the near future”.
“I am convinced that our country will become the largest food supplier in the world. This opens up new markets for us, create tremendous opportunities for advancing our products and making them more competitive,” Pankov said.
“State support to the industry is an important priority,” he added.
Sergei Doronin of Just Russia, deputy chairman of the Duma Agrarian Committee, said “Putin’s remarks about the agrarian sector showed that Russian agriculture still has hope for additional support in connection with the accession to the WTO” and “this is probably the main result for 40 million Russian people who are connected with agriculture”.
“There is no doubt that what the government is doing in this respect is absolutely not enough. And we are ready to make our own suggestions. First of all, it is necessary to solve the problem of loan pressure on agricultural producers by extending current investment loans and subsidising them,” Doronin said.
In his opinion, “regions with a harsh climate need additional support”.
He hopes that the government will now address these issues after the president’s remarks.