Zubkov Decries Low Salaries on Farms

ria-novostiFrom left, Presidents Ilham Aliyev, Abdullah Gul and Mikheil Saakashvili attending on Thursday the groundbreaking ceremony for the Turkish stretch of a $600 million railway in Kars, Turkey. It runs from Baku through Tbilisi to Kars.
First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov said Thursday during a two-day visit to the Krasnodar region that farm workers are not paid enough and that more must be done to introduce innovative agricultural techniques.

Zubkov, a former collective farm manager, has made frequent trips to the regions since being tapped last year by then-President Vladimir Putin to become prime minister.

"For a working man, 9,000 or 10,000 rubles -- that's not a lot," Zubkov said, RIA-Novosti reported.

He also called on governors to do more to support agriculture in their regions and for a resumption of the Soviet practice of sending farm workers abroad to learn new techniques.

"In eight years of work, I sent colleagues abroad seven times: to Sweden, Germany, Italy, Israel and England. They became completely different specialists, changed their mentality and their relation to work," he said.

Zubkov said he had ordered the Economic Development Ministry and the Agriculture Ministry to develop more-detailed proposals on the creation of a state-owned grain trading company.

"In Russia, it is necessary for there to be a grain company that will be competitive on our market, since many foreign companies now actively purchase grain," Zubkov said.

Also Thursday, Zubkov replaced Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev as head of the supervisory board of Rosselkhozbank, Interfax reported.