The idea to ban the import of seeds from a number of countries into Russia has been discussed since the summer. A few days ago, the government confirmed that there really are such plans for next year. In order to compensate for the dependence of domestic producers on Western seeds, it is proposed to stimulate local breeding companies: give them more agricultural land and call on science for help. The ban may include seeds from the USA, Canada, Australia, Norway, Albania, Montenegro, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
At the same time, farmers note that the decision to restrict imports is too hasty. Now the share of foreign sugar beets is about 97%, vegetables - 80%, sunflower - 73%, potatoes - 65%, spring rapeseed - 49%, soybeans - 45%. The situation with the captive looks more or less good, the share of domestic seeds varies from 80 to 90%.
In early September, a number of professional associations, such as the Russian Grain Union , the Potato Union, the Association of Producers of Planting Material and others, asked the President to postpone these measures. Farmers pointed to the plans previously announced by the authorities to increase the share of domestic seeds to 75% within 10 years, which is quite realistic. But cutting off deliveries next year is dangerous.
“This quota (at 75%) and the announced deadlines for its achievement correspond to the scientific, technical and human potential of Russian breeding and seed production and make it possible to ensure the import substitution of seeds without prejudice to the Russian agro-industrial complex,” the letter from agricultural producers says, “...Restricting the use of foreign seeds will lead to to catastrophic consequences for the industry, given that a significant share in the sown area falls on obsolete inefficient varieties of the Soviet selection.”
At the same time, there are a number of foreign companies that produce planting material in Russia, and it is important for farmers not to scare away these producers.
"Ill-considered actions to quota seed imports can stop foreign investment in domestic breeding and put our breeders in non-competitive conditions with their foreign counterparts," the appeal says.
In an interview with a Novye Izvestiya correspondent, the head of the Russian Grain Union, Arkady Zlochesky , noted that so far the situation is such that it is more profitable for farmers to buy foreign seeds, because they give more products, while domestic breeders live on state subsidies, because they cannot provide for themselves.
“We believe that these restrictions will not bring us any benefit,” the expert said, “within the framework of competition, we need high-quality seed. And domestic breeders do not have comparable with imported seeds. We, for example, use German rye, which yields 7 tons, and ours, under the same conditions, 4 tons. Give domestic seeds that will bring 7 tons, then there are no questions. But while there is no such selection, this will lead to a drop in productivity.
Vasily Melnichenko , a Ural farmer and co-chairman of the public movement "Federal Village Council", also believes that restrictions on the supply of seed will not bring benefits to the peasants. According to the expert, the situation needs to be calculated for several years ahead, since the development of domestic selection will require several years.
“I always look at all restrictions negatively,” says Melnichenko, “it would be nice to introduce restrictions on the lawlessness of officials, on the rise in prices for diesel, energy, gas, restrictions on checks. This would give an impetus to the development of agriculture. Restrictions on the import of seeds will not give anything. We are more or less provided with grain, but for other crops, our seeds are inferior in quality and yield. Of course, we need to develop our seed production, but this does not mean that restrictions will help this. There will be a lower yield and poor product quality. No restrictions needed. We understand that we will be developing seed production for a long time. And if they impose these restrictions on the import of seeds, a tribe of bulls, pigs? Ours is far from developed. This is the result of an unreasonable policy. Restrictions on the import of seeds will not help the development of villages and villages. This year, they have already tried to impose restrictions on the export of grain, and it turned out that we have 60-70 million tons thrown into the domestic market. Prices have fallen, and now the question is: why did we sow and harvest it when the price became below cost? No one calculated this at least a year or two ahead.
According to Arkady Zlochevsky , domestic breeding enterprises cannot pay for themselves because of the system of relations that have developed in the market.
“These enterprises are already being promoted with the help of the state, they are used to it,” he says, “it cannot be said that everyone works according to old technologies, there is development, but it is not enough. From a regulatory point of view, there are no conditions for a breeder to live off his income. Profit is generated through copyrights, through royalties, and we collect it at 10 percent. And how can he live on these 10%. It has no payback and no incentive to develop new varieties. And the state oversees the quality of seeds, but not the observance of copyright. In general, it is necessary to change the whole paradigm of regulation in the market. For example, we have strict supervision over the quality of seeds, while, for example, there is no such thing in the world. They oversee product safety. Even in animal husbandry, for example, there is no control over the quality of genetic material, but we have seeds. This is nonsense, and this approach needs to be changed.”