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Russians do not consume enough meat and milk
Russians do not consume enough meat and milk, Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev said. "According to statistics," he said on Wednesday at a conference on increasing the production of corn and soy in Russia, "the average Russian only consumes 70% of the normal amount of meat and 60% of the normal amount of milk." According to him, this factor, in addition to the poor quality of imported food, "negatively affects citizens' health." Mr. Gordeyev said the agricultural sector's main objective was to increase the output of animal products. "Speaking about the necessity of increasing the production of corn and soy," he said, "it should be noted that the main task facing the country is to significantly increase the production of animal products." He also spoke about the unsatisfactory rate of agriculture development. "We are concerned about the decreasing rate of agricultural development," he said, "it is only 1.5% a year. This is not what we would like to have." A Agriculture Ministry report says that soybean production in Russia was minimal, Soybeans are cultivated on 400,000-570,000 hectares and the total yield is 340,000-428,000 metric tons. At the same time, experts believe that Russia has the environmental and technical potential to increase soybean cultivation to 1 billion hectares with an annual yield of about 2 million metric tons. The ministry said that interest in corn in Russia had considerably dropped in the 1990s because of the market reforms and substantial changes in the structure of grain production. In the past two years, corn cultivation increased in southern Russia and the crop yield reached 2.1 million metric tons in 2003. The yield for corn in 2004 is expected to reach 3.5 million metric tons.
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