The Soviets appear to have begun a gradual rejiggering of their agricultural bureaucracy as part of a bid to improve food production. One sign of change has come from the Georgian Republic, which has consolidated agricultural bureaucracies into a single body.
Now, Pravda has referred, May 16, to an Agriculture and Food Industry Department as one of the specialized groups working with the Communist Party's central Secretariat in Moscow. Formerly, food industry questions were handled by the Secretariat's Light Industry Department.
Soviet sources confirm that the food portfolio has been shifted.
Senior Soviet officials say Politburo member Konstantin Chernenko, the longtime protege of Leonid Brezhnev who has been out of public view for some six weeks, has been ill but will soon reappear.
In separate interviews, two sources who would be in a position to know details of Mr. Chernenko's status said he had contracted pneumonia.
Mr. Chernenko has been absent from a number of events at which he would normally have appeared, including the signing of agreements May 16 with the visiting President and party leader of Angola, Jose Eduardo dos Santo.
''I've been told, however, that he is getting better and, in the coming days, will be back,'' an official said.
Mr. Chernenko has been handling the ideological portfolio within the party's central Secretariat since shortly after Mr. Brezhnev's passing last year.
Moscow has announced a mid-June meeting of the Supreme Soviet, or parliament, and senior officials here say the session will likely choose a new national president.
That largely ceremonial post has been vacant since Leonid Brezhnev, who was both party leader and state president, passed on last November.
Officials said, in interviews at the time, that new party chief Yuri Andropov was not planning to follow Mr. Brezhnev's example and serve also as Soviet president.
These officials have not been immediately available for comment on a recent Western news report suggesting Mr. Andropov may, in fact, be elevated to the presidency at the coming session.