Russian-Produced Food Will Replace Imports Completely According to Russian Agriculture Minister

Russian-Produced Food Will Replace Imports Completely According to Russian Agriculture Minister

Importozameshcheniye (import substitution) is the new buzzword at the Russian Agriculture Ministry.

The Russian Agriculture Minister Alexander Tkachyov has once again underlined the ongoing policy of import substitution in Russia. He said that produce from Russian farms will eradicate the need for foreign food imports from the Russian market completely within a decade.

Some think this too optimistic, but Russia has the fourth-largest acreage of arable land in the world, and no shortage of fresh water. Analysts say this should be enough to underpin a huge ongoing increase in agricultural production.

“The main task that faces Russian agriculture is to accelerate import substitution. In ten years, domestic food products ought to replace and squeeze out imported ones 100 percent,” Tkachyov recently told the TASS news agency.

Tkachyov’s main priority since his recent appointment has been to try and reorganise the Russian domestic agricultural industry to take advantage of the loss of many Western food imports caused by counter-sanctions.

Russia imposed reciprocal import bans in 2014 on food products from countries with sanctions against Russia. Since then, Russian politicians have been optimistic about the prospects of the domestic agriculture industry.

Some agriculture experts remain sceptical though. They say that to achieve this much growth in the sector would require substantial financial input from the state for at least five years. Tkachyov has already confirmed that the sector will receive “unprecedented” state support of 2 trillion roubles ($35 billion) over the next five years.

Tkachyov said that agriculture is already growing steadily, influenced by Russia’s reduced imports and the devaluation of the rouble. This gives domestic producers a competitive edge by causing the cost of imported food to increase.

Production is rising in some sectors already; most notably in the cheese industry. The rouble’s fall against the US dollar last year, combined with falls in the price of oil and Western sanctions squeezed Russia’s economy. Critics say that Russian producers will lose market share once more when products from Europe return to the market.

Tkachyov was appointed as Agriculture Minister in April, replacing Nikolai Fyodorov. One of his main remits is to speed up the development of Russian agriculture by creating favourable conditions for farms and agriculture. He intends to push the industry towards increasing production and reducing food prices, thus allowing for greater import substitution.

 

Follow Stuart Smith on Twitter @RussianHQ

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