15 Sep 2022 09:36

Expert calls for getting businesses to invest in seed production in Russia

MINERALNYE VODY. Sept 15 (Interfax) - Russia needs to get private businesses to invest in seed selection and production centers, which would reduce the country's dependence on imported seeds, the vice president of the Russian Union of Crop Protection Chemical Producers, Salis Karakotov said on Wednesday.

This industry is growing "only on state selection institutions - this is a useless waste of time," he said. "They have little money and no ability to invest. Business must get involved [in the development of domestic seed production]," Karakotov said at the MinvodyAGRO agribusiness exhibition in Mineralnye Vody.

Russia remains very dependent on imported seeds for five crops - sugar beets, sunflower, rapeseed, corn and soybean, he said. The share of foreign seeds amounts to 83% for sugar beet, 77% for sunflower, 60% for rapeseed, 50% for corn and 40% for soybean, according to his presentation.

"And the costs per hectare of foreign seeds are higher than of domestic ones for all crops. If you total it up, we annually gave 110 billion rubles for the acquisition of foreign seeds in the past 10 years, that's more than 1 trillion rubles in 10 years, and didn't spend much on domestic development of seed production," Karakotov said.

Now there is not a single supplier of foreign seeds who is from a "friendly" country, he said.

"Consequently, we face the threat of being left without these seeds. What do we need to do? We need to subsidize. The first, targeted, sufficient financing of state and nongovernmental selection companies has started to work, but for two crops at this point - beets and potatoes. Going forward we need quotas for imports of seeds in proportion to the growth of our own production. Not simply closure of borders, but gradual quotas as our own production grows," Karakotov said.

Subsidies for the cost of domestic seeds for up to five years would also help develop the sector, he said.