Новые известия(en)
If you don't sow, you won't reap: the main problem of agriculture in Russia is imported seeds
30 May, 16:59
If you don't sow, you won't reap: the main problem of agriculture in Russia is imported seeds
A week ago, the influential American edition of The Economist presented another fresh issue and publication called "The Approaching Food Crash". On the cover of the magazine - ears of wheat with skulls instead of grains.

Irina Zhiltsova, technologist of production and processing of agricultural products, analyst

Lyudmila Popova, analyst, blogger

It is impossible to successfully resolve the brewing food crisis in the world without food from Russia and Belarus, as well as without grain from Ukraine, UN Secretary General António Guterres believes. These goods, according to the head of the world organization, should have "full and unlimited access to world markets".

"Let me be very clear: there is no effective resolution of the food crisis without the reintegration of Ukrainian production into the world market, as well as without the products and fertilizers of Russia and Belarus", - Guterres told TASS during a speech at a US-sponsored ministerial conference on food security.

Our world, obviously, has gone into a global crisis. First, the usual life was disrupted by a pandemic, which led to the fall of the economy, the introduction of total control and the digitization of a person through QR codes. "Labels" were issued to people who had undergone a new procedure. This allowed people not only to enjoy the benefits of society, but also to get access to work and public transport, which are the basis of life!

Then a special operation began and economic sanctions followed. Food and fuel prices have risen not only in Russia, but throughout the world. For example, food prices in Iran increased by 300%.

Photo:The Economist

The sowing season and harvests were in jeopardy, both in Russia and Ukraine, and these are the world leaders in the supply of grain, corn and sunflower oil.

Famine threatens almost 1 billion people in Africa, as Ukraine and Russia supplied grain and corn there. Ukraine exports wheat to Europe, despite the risk of grain shortages and the difficult situation in the country.

Sounds like the beginning of a man-made famine? Everything goes according to plan"? That is, after the military conflict, mass starvation awaits us?

It is worth noting that it was in this sequence that world events were predicted on the cover of the same aforementioned The Economist magazine.

Back in 2019, a picture called "The World in 2019" depicted the four horsemen of the apocalypse: Pestilence, War, Famine, Death.

Is the cover of this magazine a coincidence, or is our life falling apart according to someone else's plan?

There is an opinion that a possible famine will not affect Russia. Russians do not believe that it will be impossible to buy groceries in stores even with money, that they simply will not be available.

Let's turn to statistics and facts.

The whole point of the problem is that Russia is rich in natural resources, including expanses of fertile land.

But now our crop production is almost completely dependent on the import of seeds, fertilizers and machinery.

If at least one link from the chain falls out: land, seeds, chemistry, technology, there may not be a harvest. Peasants are already experiencing difficulties with imported seeds, fertilizers, spare parts for agricultural machinery.

They create the illusion of their agriculture for us by the fact that it seems that our fields are sown and everything grows on them. But it is silent that it is built on imported seeds, imported agricultural machinery, and agricultural chemistry. There will be no all this - and we simply will not be able to sow the fields.

For example, the seeds of the most common sugar beet, from which sugar is made, are only 3% in the country, the remaining 97% are bought in Europe.

We have only 15% of our own seed potatoes.

According to the "Selection 2.0" study, conducted in 2020 by the Technology Transfer Center of the National Research University Higher School of Economics (NRU HSE), over ten years, from 2009 to 2019, the share of imported seeds in the agro-industrial complex of Russia has increased significantly. Thus, for corn, the share of imports increased from 37% to 58%, for sunflower - from 53% to 73%, for sugar beet - from 50% to 98%.

Perhaps the only agricultural crop in which the Russian Federation still holds the leading position in its market is wheat (the share of Russian seeds is 97%).

And it is simply impossible to restore your agriculture quickly.

According to the director of the Sugar Beet Institute Igor Apasov, “the whole process from developing our seeds to introducing them into the economy will take 15-17 years; if you use genetic selection - at least 5-7 years.

In the best case scenario, you can reach the level of 30% of your seeds by 2025.

The main problem is not even finances, but the complete collapse of the seed industry.

There were 118 seed-growing enterprises in the USSR, now there are almost none.

It is necessary to build the entire system anew, taking into account new technologies that have made great strides over the past thirty years.

The media proudly report to us that Russia itself produces poultry meat, and it ranks 4th in the world. But they do not say that all production, again, is based on imports.

98% of the parent birds from which broilers are hatched are imported to Russia by two corporations: American and German.

As experts said back in 2020, it is unrealistic for the country to reach the level of its broilers even as low as 15%. The situation is exactly the same in pig breeding, the breeding material of which is based on three imported breeds.

And recently a special law was passed that prohibits planting your own potatoes with the aim of selling them for seeds.

If there is no seed production in the country, then the people themselves could provide themselves with seeds. But, as Novye Izvestia told in detail, this is forbidden!

And perfectly healthy pigs and chickens in households or on small farms are slaughtered by the millions across the country under the pretext of bird flu and African plague .

It turns out that we are being led to hunger consciously and purposefully?

Even in our agrarian country, we will be able to feel the shortage of food already this autumn. Let's explain why.

Sanctions can stop the import of seeds, fertilizers and equipment at any time.

We switched to expensive, hybrid imported seeds, such as rye, because they yield 75 centners per hectare. And their own, varietal, in a good year, with favorable weather, they gave 40 centners per hectare. Hybrids pay off much better, due to the high yield.

Людмила Попова и Ирина Жильцова

Now Russia is in first place in terms of the number of sanctions imposed against it.

The purchase of imported seeds, spare parts and equipment requires foreign currency, from which Russia was cut off by Western countries as a result of sanctions.

Fertilizers, chemicals, fuels and lubricants - prices have risen for everything.

If one link falls out - for example, seeds - the whole chain will suffer.

Seeds, fertilizers, means of protection, equipment are currently not available to farmers.

Without exception, all resource providers have switched to a 100% prepayment system.

Previously, all crop protection funds were provided with deferred payment. Moreover, there were delays of up to one year. That is, farmers received resources, weeded out, harvested, and only then, after selling it, did they pay.

The peasants are looking for an alternative. For example, some have to switch to mechanical, manual weeding. There is no money for chemicals, and no one has canceled weeds.

It is clear that this is less efficient, long and complicated. This is called the fall of manufacturability. If bad weather conditions are added to the lack of manufacturability, we will automatically get a serious drop in spring wheat yields .

The real trouble will come when the producers of imported seeds refuse to supply them to Russia.

Say, "Is that impossible?" But dozens of foreign companies have already decided to leave Russia. But hundreds of foreign companies are already refusing to supply their products to Russia. So it turns out: why, with bad "genetics", good fertilizers and black soil?

And then what? Russia is almost completely left without sugar, potatoes, chicken ... Partially - without everything else edible.

The only food we are fully provided with is wheat.

Russia is provided with bread, but will grain importers, the same Europe, remain provided with bread? On the example of Ukraine, we see that there can be a decision to export grain from the country?

Most likely, Russia will be provided with grain this year. More than 60% of the gross harvest is winter wheat. But late crops will be sown according to the residual principle (how much money remains, so much will be).

Here corn and sunflower are under attack. The world is already experiencing a stir around sunflower oil.

In Germany, they release no more than four bottles in one hand. The two largest and most powerful suppliers of sunflower oil, Ukraine and Russia, occupy 80% of the global sunflower oil market.

How will the absence of Ukraine and Russia affect the world market?

The trends of recent years in the grain market are as follows: a decrease in the share of the United States in the world grain market, an increase in the share of Russia, Ukraine and Argentina in the wheat market, Brazil, Argentina and Ukraine in the corn market.

On March 15, 2022, Russia suspended the export of grain outside the country. Russia has banned the export of sunflower and rapeseed. Restricted the export of wheat.

On April 1, 2022, Deputy Chairman of the Security Council Dmitry Medvedev wrote that "there will be no supplies to the West", "Priority ... the domestic market. And price control.

Two key destinations for wheat exports from Russia are Turkey and Egypt, where a total of 33.7% of all exported wheat was shipped. Yemen, Iran and Azerbaijan were also major sales destinations.

The implications of this ratio of numbers are obvious.

It is worth noting that India has imposed a ban on wheat exports due to rising domestic prices. It was India that was hoped to fill the gap in global wheat supplies created by the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

At present, Russia provides itself with food in the following way.

If we take grain, then the standards for its consumption are determined at the rate of 110 kilograms of bread per person per year, while about 750 kg of bread is obtained from one ton of grain.

Thus, 143 kilograms of grain are needed for bread.

Another 30 kg should be added for pastries, pasta, cereals and so on.

25% of the grain from the total amount must be deducted for seeds and for natural losses during storage.

The total consumption will be 230 kg of grain per person per year.

The total consumption of the Russian population will thus amount to 32 million tons of grain per year.

If we recall that the grain harvest in the Russian Federation in net weight in 2021 amounted to 120.7 million tons, it becomes obvious that Russia's food security in terms of grain is provided with a margin.

Sugar consumption in Russia is about 39 kilograms per capita per year. That is, the volumes of our own production will allow us to cover 75-80% of our demand for sugar in the near future, subject to the supply of imported seeds.

Russia produces 3.5-4 million tons of vegetable oil per year, mainly sunflower oil. Thus, we almost completely cover our needs for vegetable oil.

The share of imports in the market is no more than 3%. The export of vegetable oil, on the contrary, is very impressive and accounts for approximately 25% of production volumes.

The situation with regard to meat continues to be quite complicated. But with poultry meat, for example, we provide ourselves almost completely, with the condition of importing parental poultry.

In general, the conclusion suggests itself disappointing.

Complete interdependence of Russia, Europe and African countries.

Russia was denied access to half of its gold and foreign exchange reserves, to cash dollars, euros, as well as to international settlement systems.

Russia was denied access to transport links with Europe by air, sea and land.

The example of seeds clearly shows how much Russia depends on the West.

But doesn't Europe cut the branch on which it sits? It is Russia that is the main importer of grain and oil not only to Africa, but also to Europe.