10 October 2023
As Belarussian potato harvest reaches 257,000 tons, we look at how the crop has gained importance in the country.
AROUND 256,600 tons of potatoes had been harvested in Belarus by the start of October, according to an announcement by the Belarusian Agriculture and Food Ministry. The yields average 352.9 centners per hectare.
The retail price range for Belarus potatoes in October is between US$ 0.6 and US$ 1.3 per kilogram or between US$ 0.27 and US$ 0.59 per pound(lb). The retail price range in Belarusian Ruble for potatoes is between BYN 1.52 and BYN 3.28 per kilogram or between BYN 0.69 and BYN 1.49 per pound(lb) in Minsk and Barysaw.
In August, the country's president, Aleksandr Lukashenko, stated that there would be a renewed focus on the potato crop, which he said is "very cost-effective and promising".
On a national scale, there were many issues to be solved. These included the revision of the seed production system, setting up specialty farms, building storage facilities and logistics centers.
The president was quoted by The Belarusian Telegraph Agency (BelTA), the state-owned national news agency, as saying: "Potatoes from Africa and other countries at high prices in June, July and August should be ruled out. You need to ensure domestic products at low prices. The surplus can be exported. But first you need to feed your people.”
Potato is a staple in the Belarusian diet and the country is estimated to get through around 180kg of potatoes every day. Nikolai Leshik, Head of Crop Farming of the Belarusian Agriculture and Food Ministry, has previously stated that 300,000 tonnes of Belarusian potatoes are exported every year.
The potato was first brought to the Belarusian lands at the time of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. It was a delicacy then. Mass cultivation began in the middle of the 18th century. At first it was grown mainly in the Grodno region and only a hundred years later in all Belarusian regions. Gradually it turned into the main national vegetable.
Last year, a total of 3.857 million tonnes of potatoes were harvested in the country - more than enough to feed the country. Of those, 300,000 tonnes were exported. This season, the planted area was reduced by 2,000 hectares.
Minsk Oblast and Brest Oblast have traditionally the country's largest areas planted to potatoes. Their fields grow 50% of Belarus' potato crop.