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Economy, agriculture and food security
In 2014, the gross domestic product (GDP) was US$ 76 139 million and agriculture accounted for 9 percent of GDP, while in 1994 it accounted for 10 percent.
Belarus was heavily affected by the accident at the nuclear power plant at Chernobyl, which is located just over the border in the southeast in neighbouring Ukraine close to the Pripyat river. The nuclear accident occurred in April 1986 and 70 percent of the radiation is estimated to have fallen on Belarus, as prevailing winds carried the heaviest radioactive releases into Belarus. About 1.8 million ha or 20 percent of the agricultural land in Belarus is estimated to be contaminated, including almost the entire drained area in the southern and southeastern Polesye. More than 2 million ha of forest areas were also subject to radioactive contamination. However, in spite of this contamination, cropping has not been totally suspended. As of January 2008 only 248 700 ha were reported to have been taken out of the agricultural use. The largest part of contaminated areas is in Gomel and Mogilev provinces in the southeast of the country (MNREP, 2009).
Traditionally, the farms in Belarus were state-run. In 1995, agriculture was almost exclusively in the hands of the sovkhoz (state farms) and kolkhoz (collective farms) and there were only 3 000 private farms in Belarus, owning a total of 62 100 ha of land. Many of the state-run farms have now been privatized and sold to foreign investors, greatly increasing their productivity. Several of the remaining state-owned farms are seeking foreign investment.
The country's main agricultural products are potatoes (being the world's eighth biggest producer) and cereals. Other agricultural products include vegetables, fruits, meat, diary products. Much is exported to neighbouring states, with the Russian Federation being a major market (Belarus.by, 2015).
Most of the Trans-European railway main lines and highways, oil and gas pipelines, air routes and waterways between West Europe and Asia, converge in Belarus. The shortest routes from Central and Eastern Russian regions to Western Europe, as well as between the Baltic and Black seas, go through Belarus. Belarus is rich in natural resources (MNREP, 2009).