Russia: Domestic seeds will help lessen EU dependance

Russia lives in vegetable dependence on Europe where all seeds are purchased. The Federal Service for Veterinarian and Vegetation Sanitary Supervision (Rosselkhoznadzor) repeatedly threatened the European Union with the ban on import of seed grains. In fact, it means digging its own grave. "Without seed potato coming from foreign countries we can pull through only for one year, then everything that involves vegetables will come to a halt," Vitaly Dunin, the chairman of the Sverdlovsk Union of Producers and Processors of Potatoes and Vegetables, told RusBusinessNews.

According to Dunin, the domestic seed industry was destroyed in the 1990s-2000s and now is in the embryonic state. The Belorechensky Agro-Industrial Complex, CJSC, headed by Dunin, purchases high yielding potato hybrids from the Netherlands. The Dutch grow their seed potatoes in the most agriculturally favorable areas in Italy, Africa and Spain, sorting them by color, quality grade and size.

The Sverdlovsk Region is ready and willing to get out of the European bondage. The Belorechensky Agro-Industrial Complex, together with Kartofel, LLC, and the Agriculture Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Agriculture, prepared a business plan for the breeding center that will allow farmers to reduce their potato seed import by 50% or more. The cost of this center is 300 million rubles. The initiators of the project expect that the federal and regional government authorities will chip in together and allocate 100 million from each side. The Sredneuralsk government gave the go-ahead to the idea, which is now being scrutinized at the RF Ministry of Agriculture. If everything works out, the breeding center will start operating in 2014.

The most knotty problem of agrarians is disparity of prices. The unchangeable comparison between the prices of a kilogram of potatoes and a liter of diesel fuel is still not in their favor. In the opinion of producers, when vegetables are sold below their cost, the government must compensate the producers for the difference so that the farms could keep operating at the break-even point. They have such practices in foreign countries; the Tyumen Region opted for the same policy in 2011, having compensated direct costs of the agrarians.


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