BLAGOVESHCHENSK, August 29 (RIA Novosti) - President Vladimir Putin met farmers’ leaders and regional officials in Russia’s Far East Thursday to see the effects of the massive flooding across the region that has devastated agriculture there.
Several weeks of floods, said by Russian weather experts to be the worst in the region in 120 years, have affected at least 50,000 people in the Amur Region, the Jewish Autonomous Region, and the Khabarovsk and Primorye territories, as well as in the Siberian republic of Yakutia, acording to Emergencies Ministry officals.
Local farmers’ representative Arkady told Putin that 100 percent of his farmland was flooded this year. He also said he had taken out loans from Russia’s state-owned agriculture lender Rosselkhozbank, and needs to pay off those debts.
“It’s possible to extend the loan for three years, but in general the situation is very difficult,” Korneyev said. “I need to go out next year and buy seeds and fertilizer. I have flat fields, there isn't even any high ground. If bumps were a minus before, like in my neighbor’s fields, at least they saved some crops on those parts.”
In addition to the loss of his crop harvest, Korneyev told Putin, his cattle have died from foot-and-mouth disease. Last year he invested 40 million rubles ($1.21 million) in development of his farm, to buy cattle and new equipment, he said.
“I took out a loan from Sberbank [Russia's largest bank]. If Rosselkhozbank has made at least a couple statements in support of the farmers, Sberbank has been silent so far,” he said.
Putin, who had previously flown over the area to witness the extent of the disaster, discussed with the regional governor Oleg Kozhemyako what assistance the farmers needed.
“We’re taking a beating, but we’re getting stronger,” Putin said in a statement of support to the farmers. “I know that you’ve fought very courageously for your crops and livestock, but weather elements are what they are. Our challenge now is to minimize losses,” he added.
Heavy rainfalls caused by cyclones in the Pacific have caused the Amur River to burst its banks, inundating the city of Khabarovsk. Water levels in the city were still rising on Tuesday night, meteorologists said.
The situation is not expected to improve until at least the end of September or even October, meteorologists say.