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Turkish tomatoes still not welcome in Russia

Russia is not planning to open its borders to Turkish tomatoes. The Russian Minister of Agriculture, Alexander Tkachev, confirmed this in an interview on the TV station, Rossiya 24. According to reports, the border will remained closed for Turkish tomatoes for another three to five years.

"We have sent a strong message to the domestic market regarding the saturation of our market with tomatoes and other vegetable", said the minister. "Government budgets have been issued and the sector responded. Of course it would be unethical to turn our own farmers away." According to Russia, vegetable production has increased by 30% between 2014 and 2017. "This is about hundreds of tonnes of produce; the entire industry, factories and jobs."



Russia invests in tomato cultivation
On 18 August, at a trade fair in Izmir, Russia and Turkey met to discuss the tomato trade. Russia voluntarily lifted the complete boycott against Turkey. Only tomatoes, sweet peppers, aubergines, lettuce and iceberg lettuce are still barred. Tomato exports are especially important for Turkey. Russia used to be the top destination for this vegetable. They exported $259 million's worth in 2015.

The question now is if Turkish exporters should still rely on the Russian market. Apart from the unclear reports from the Kremlin about the end of the boycott, the Russians are investing heavily in greenhouses. Russia imports about 500 000 tonnes of tomatoes per year, consuming about 3,4 million tonnes annually. The largest part of their production is, however, from outdoor cultivation. Due to severe winters, supply in these months is lower. By investing in greenhouses, this volume can be increased. According to reports, 620 000 tonnes is grown in greenhouses.

Greenhouses that were used for cucumber cultivation are now being set up for the growing of tomatoes. The Russian conglomerate, Sistema, built a 144 hectare mega greenhouse. This was in 2015, just after sanctions were imposed. It is good for 45 000 tonnes of tomatoes and cucumbers. Other large companies have also stepped into the tomato growing arena. Tomato imports were already under pressure in 2014, due to the weakening of the Rouble.

According to calculations made by the Russian authorities, the American economy has lost $2.25 billion due to the Russian boycott. This loss could be up to $2.2 billion on an annual basis.

Publication date: 8/10/2017

 


 

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