President of Russia Vladimir Putin: You wanted to start with gas supply?
Acting Governor of the Kherson Region Vladimir Saldo: Yes, we can start with that.
Vladimir Putin: And then talk about agricultural production, right?
Vladimir Saldo: Yes.
We are making progress on the situation linked with utilities in the Kherson Region. Since gas was coming via a pipeline from Ukraine before – there was a big gas main on the other side – now, of course for natural reasons…
Vladimir Putin: But ultimately, this gas was Russian.
Vladimir Saldo: This gas is only Russian. There is no other gas.
Vladimir Putin: No, there is a bit, but for the most part, this is Russian gas.
Vladimir Saldo: Now we need to preserve the balance of gas supply, considering that gas supply is available only for 27 percent of the Kherson Region. This is not much.
Vladimir Putin: It’s not much, but why?
Vladimir Saldo: This is how it happened. The figure for the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics is 75 percent, but the figure for the Kherson Region, especially on the left bank, is a mere 27 percent.
Vladimir Putin: It should be increased.
Vladimir Saldo: Yes. This is why we need now to send gas from Crimea. Before we sent gas to Crimea, but now it is the other way around. There is a gas pipeline. It goes to Dzhankoi. We must build a pipeline to the Genichesk area and then distribute gas in the entire region. This is my request. We need a pipeline of about 105 km.
Vladimir Putin: You have a letter on this.
Vladimir Saldo: Yes.
Vladimir Putin: Ok, let’s do it. We will deal with this problem, of course. It is very important for the people there. We understand this. The situation in their households will change, and the economy will develop in a completely different way…
Vladimir Saldo: We have horticulture. We have greenhouses that also need energy. Gas will reduce the costs and, hence, the prices.
Vladimir Putin: Energy cost. This is absolutely clear. Everything will be more reliable and stable. I understand this.
Vladimir Saldo: Thank you.
And now I will gradually move to the second part. I have the letter with me. Our left bank is our agrarian sector for the most part – by 95 percent.
Vladimir Putin: I know.
Vladimir Saldo: High farming standards, big areas, over 600,000 hectares are improved and irrigated lands. In cooperation with our Armed Forces, we have fixed the main pumping station. There are two canals – the main Kakhovka Canal and the Severokrymsky (North Crimean) Canal that also provides Crimea with water.
Land cultivation is organised but we are short of vegetable storehouse and cold stores that can hold these products until summer…
Vladimir Putin: …and, depending on the market changes, offer them for sale, for instance.
Vladimir Saldo: In the winter, the borsch set becomes more expensive, but in the summer the price dives. We need year-round storage facilities. Famous Kherson produce – tomatoes, watermelons and grapes – could be distributed further to all of the Russian Federation. People know our products.
We have discussed all of this and have a proposal – to create an agro-cluster, an agro-industrial cluster that will process, store and transport produce.
Vladimir Putin: Are you thinking a public cluster or private-public?
Vladimir Saldo: It could be private-public. That’s also possible.
Vladimir Putin: A partnership.
Vladimir Saldo: It won’t require a huge investment. It will pay off in two years.
Vladimir Putin: How much approximately? How much in your estimate?
Vladimir Saldo: We need about 25 billion to build a new vegetable storehouse with cold stores – this includes everything related to it. With this project, we can even out the prices in the Kherson Region and can supply the Russian market with produce.
Vladimir Putin: Very good. This is useful for Russia in general and two or three times more useful for the Kherson Region because this is its main production.
All right. We will certainly help you.
Vladimir Saldo: Thank you very much.