Russia looks at restricting seed imports

07-02-2023 | |
Photo: Canva
Photo: Canva

The Russian Agricultural Ministry has drafted plans to introduce quotas on seeds import in order to give a boost to domestic production.

During the past several months, the Ministry has been mulling the idea of restricting the import of seeds, citing fears of major turbulence in the Russian agricultural industry if new Western sanctions disrupt import in this segment.

“It is necessary, together with our business, research institutes, and science, to produce our own seed forms. And this is what we will do. We will limit commercial seeds [import] somewhat because it is necessary to create our own supply,” Dmitry Patrushev, the Russian Agricultural Minister, said during the XIV Russian dairy industry Congress in Moscow.

Parental forms needed

“Our market is open to foreign selection. And they [foreign companies] import, in fact, ready-made forms,” Patrushev noted. “Nobody gives us parental forms. We are very vulnerable in this situation, and we will take certain actions that will encourage both foreigners and our producers to import parental forms.”

In light of the growing sanctions pressure, Patrushev described the situation with the Russian seeds import as extremely difficult, as domestic supplies last year fell short of the target envisaged by the Russian Food Security Doctrine, under which the country needs to manufacture 75% of agricultural products using domestic seeds.

On average, the share of imported seeds in Russian agriculture is estimated to be close to 40%. However, in some segments, it reached 95% to 100%, according to the Ministry.

A controversial decision

In December 2022, speaking during a meeting with the Russian Parliament, Patrushev promised not to limit seed import to the detriment of the harvest. He claimed that there was no unequivocal decision on the measures that needed to be taken but didn’t rule out certain import restrictions in the future.

At the end of August, the Ministry proposed to impose an import quota on sunflowers, wheat, rye, barley, corn, soybeans, rapeseed and sugar beets seeds.

Inappropriate and counterproductive

In response, the Russian Grain Union, the Potato Union, the association of planting material producers and several other business unions sent an open letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, warning about the damage Russian agriculture could suffer if the quotas are put in place. The authors of the letter called the idea “inappropriate and counterproductive,” voicing fears of rising production costs, which would inevitably entail a price hike of food on the grocery shelves.

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