The Russian news agency TASS, with reference to the Crimean “Minister of Agriculture” Andrei Ryumshin, reports that in Crimea in 2020 an allegedly “record” grape harvest was collected, almost one hundred thousand tons from 14.7 thousand hectares. According to the “minister”, this was achieved allegedly due to “state support of Crimean viticultural enterprises, the volume of which increased eightfold from 2014 to 2019” and by planting five thousand hectares of new plantations since 2015 [1].

At the same time, as it was evidenced by official sources, in particular by the Program for the Development of Viticulture and Winemaking of the ARC, approved by the relevant republican Ministry in 2012, as well as by the scientific works, at the beginning of 2014 on the peninsula there were 31.1 thousand hectares of functioning vineyards, excluding Sevastopol [2], [3]. After the Soviet “anti-alcohol campaign” in 1986, the area of vineyards on the peninsula was constant and in 2005 it was 33.5 thousand hectares. In 2005-2009, 5.2 thousand hectares were laid in the ARC, and in 2010-2013 another 2.1 thousand hectares of new wine-growers were laid; the smallest area over the years of observation was laid in 2014, only 250 hectares.

Thus, it is not clear from the “minister’s reporting” – where, in fact, over ten thousand hectares of Crimean vineyards have gone during the years of occupation. The figures of “record harvests” announced by the occupation administration, even if we disregard the weather conditions, are also “not impressive”. After all, the average long-term grape yield in the ARC is 30-40 centners per hectare [4].

Therefore, a stable 30 thousand hectares of plantations until 2014 yielded at least 100 thousand tons of crops even in lean years. It can hardly be believed that the cut in half vineyards provided a record yield of 60 tons per hectare in dry 2020. And even more so, this figure is not explained by either “advanced Russian technologies” or by declared “state support”.

For example, in 2005 (the year of average yield in the region) 33.5 thousand tons of grapes were harvested from the vineyards of Sevastopol [4]. At the same time, in 2019, the media controlled by the invaders reported about a “record harvest” of Sevastopol of only 21.7 thousand tons [5].

Thus, viticulture in Crimea, despite the “support increased by eight times”, is at best stagnant. It is impossible to explain the limited development of viticulture by the sanctions of the European Union, which the occupiers sometimes refer to in more realistic reports. Indeed, by 2014, there were three powerful brood viticultural farms on the peninsula, which almost completely covered the needs of the region, taking into account the fact that the most promising for Crimea are not European, but local grape varieties.

In addition, the Crimean viticulture is now negatively affected by the massive reduction of vineyards for construction and military facilities. Therefore, the state of affairs in this area of the Crimean economy differs significantly from the reports of the Russian media.

Borys Babin