25 Aug 2009 14:18

Agriculture Ministry draws up measures to aid drought-stricken farmers

MOSCOW. Aug 25 (Interfax) - The Russian Agriculture Ministry has prepared a draft decree that would subsidize prolonged loans for regions affected by this year's drought, Deputy Agriculture Minister Sergei Korolyov said at a meeting of ministry officials on Tuesday.

The decree is part of measures that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin ordered be drawn up to aid farmers hit hardest by the drought. The most significant aspect of this support is the prolonging of loans. Farmers handling mixed production will have their loans extended by one year, while those working exclusively with crops will get extensions of up to three years.

In addition, the measures envision deferments on leasing payments in addition to possible supplies of grain from the intervention fund for regions suffering from the drought.

Proposals are also being drawn up on raising the efficiency of crop insurance, he said.

A state of emergency has been declared in 15 regions this year because of the drought, which is expected to destroy about 11 million tonnes of grain. Such losses could have a negative impact on gross agricultural production, he said.

Korolyov confirmed the previous forecast that the grain harvest will total 85 million-90 million tonnes this year compared to 108.1 million tonnes in 2008.