Reindeer breeding in the Koryak Autonomous Okrug

November 1999

(Manager of the Agricultural Department of the Koryak Autonomous Okrug)

Under the conditions of the free market, without federal support, and without support by the okrug administration or the local authorities, the reindeer breeding economy of the okrug is in a disastrous situation.

In 1990, the number of employed people in the sovkhozes of the okrug was 2114, of which 870 were involved in reindeer farming. This activity fulfilled the economic needs of reindeer-herding specialists in rural areas. But after reindeer husbandry was subsequently reformed, reindeer farming enterprises lost more than 60% of their qualified staff. At present, 550 persons are employed in the sovkhozes of the okrug, of which 280 work in reindeer farming. Three out of nine sovkhozes are lacking leaders. Outstanding salary payments as of 1 January 1999 amounted to 6.8 million rubles.

The production of reindeer meat in the okrug in 1998 was 440 t - only 12.5% of the 3500 t produced in 1990.

According to the Statistical Committee of the Okrug, the number of domesticated reindeer in all forms of ownership was 55,000 as of 1 January 1999. This is a decline of 13%, or 8470 animals, compared to the preceding year. The annual decline of the previous years was 20-25%. At present, the main reasons for the decline of reindeer numbers are unproductive waste due to casualties, including those caused by wolves, and poaching. The allowance from the federal budget for the culling of wolves in 1998 resulted in fewer reindeer losses, from 32,800 lost in 1997 to 20,000 in 1998. But the 1998 wolf culling allowance - approximately 500,000 rubles - was not sufficient to limit reindeer predation to a tolerable level.

Recently reindeer farming has lost its own circulating capital. The creditor's indebtedness increases. The losses of production activity are growing as a result of high costs of products. There is virtually no funding from the regional budget on reindeer farming, which is the basic agricultural basis of the region. Thus, it was planned to allocate 18 million rubles from the regional budget to reindeer farming in 1998, but actually only 2.2 million rubles (12% of the sum) were paid. The indebtedness of the regional budget on allocating funds for agriculture now amounts to 27.5 million rubles and is increasing annually.

In the budget of 1999, grants for the rural economy were almost two third less than in 1998 and constitute less than 2% of the entire budget.

In order to prevent the further decrease in reindeer numbers, it is necessary to stop the slaughter of reindeer to realise an immediate income form the sale of meat, to reconsider the existing payment practices for meat subsidies, and to pay these subsidies directly to the reindeer farmers. Building up reindeer numbers will entail reorientating the reindeer economy toward such activities as stocking up on new antlers, gathering antlers, and so on.