RUSSIA- Inadequate sunflower seed imports from major seed suppliers could jeopardize Russia’s production in 2023. 

According to the Russian National Seed Alliance’s (NSA) appeal to the Russian government, various major seed suppliers are trying to create “an artificial hype” for their products and influence the country’s food market. 

Russian farms are complaining that some foreign suppliers of sunflower seeds, including Syngenta, Bayer, and Nusid Ru, chose to dishonor their obligations under contracts with Russian customers according to NSA. 

The fact that foreign companies are now disrupting the supply of seeds on the eve of the sowing season is an attempt to influence the Russian authorities through farmers and an attempt to cause an artificial hype to further raise prices for their products,” Igor Lobach, chairman of NSA, commented. 

Last year, the Russian government announced that it would restrict Russian imports to increase the focus on domestic production and promote the country’s self-reliance;  a stance that Russian seed manufacturers support.

The Agricultural Ministry has done tremendous work to prepare agriculture for import substitution… and the Russian seed industry is ready to completely replace foreign selection within two years,” NSA said. 

The restriction of imports this year was to involve quotas on sunflowers, wheat, rye, barley, corn, soybeans, rapeseed, and sugar beets seed importation.

However, the Russian Grain Union, the Potato Union, and the association of planting material producers among other unions sent an open letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, warning about the damage Russian agriculture could suffer if the restrictions are in place.

The seed suppliers that are refusing to sell to Russian farmers accuse Russian federal authorities of imposing barriers to free trade. 

These accusations could become heightened as the Ukrainian government seeks an extension of the Black Sea grain deal, with Russia stonewalling the renewal unless all its terms are met. 

Moreover, the Russian veterinary watchdog Rosselhoznadzor recently banned the import of Syngenta sunflower seeds after a routine inspection discovered sunflower Phomopsis in some samples of the delivered products.

This incidence could further alienate major global suppliers of seeds and hamper the country’s grain production. 

Additional state aid could promote self-reliance  

Quality issues in the supply of sunflower seeds are a reason for promoting Russia’s desire for self-reliance, and with the government’s support, Russia could achieve this goal. 

NSA called on the authorities to enhance import-replacement efforts to protect the Russian grain industry from turmoil in the future.

With this additional state aid, Russian farmers could see the share of domestic seeds in sunflower production reaching 35% in 2023, and is likely to climb to 50% in 2024.

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