Almost all Russian agricultural products are grown from imported seeds. Such a peculiar import substitution in the agricultural sector. The same beets grown in the field, sort of like ours, but the seeds of this beet were brought from abroad. What will happen if one day they are not brought?
“Parliamentary newspaper” decided to find out why the country continues to depend on imports in seed production, what the extent of this dependence is, and how the state is going to solve the problem of shortage of domestic seeds.
Hoping for gardeners?
“Well, whatever variety you take — foreign names are everywhere, because all seeds are imported,” said Federation Council Chairwoman Valentina Matvienko at the opening of a new greenhouse complex in the Leningrad Region.
She praised the employees of the greenhouse for the development of new technologies, but, addressing the entire agricultural community and lawmakers, she urged to work closely on the restoration of the seed sector so that agricultural products were produced entirely from domestic components.
The situation in seed production is not very good both in the field of horticulture and vegetable growing, the chairman of the State Duma Committee on Agrarian Issues, Vladimir Kashin, said in a conversation with the Parliamentary Newspaper. According to him, producers of sugar and fodder beets are most dependent on imported seeds. Domestic competitive seeds of this culture have yet to be created, the deputy noted.
Things are slightly better with corn: the market is still occupied by foreign producers who have mastered in this area several decades ago. At the same time, Russian seed growers can become serious competitors for them, but for this the state must support them.
Domestic seeds are very popular among the population, Vladimir Kashin emphasized. This is especially true for the cultivation of "garden" vegetables. “About 80 percent of vegetables (tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers and others) are produced by the population, and this part is closed by domestic seed production,” the legislator said.
One of the few vegetable crops that is grown from imported material is potatoes. Here, a rather decent sector is occupied by Dutch varieties, and the demand for them comes not only from ordinary farmers, but also large agricultural firms.
The best things are in the grain segment. “Our varieties are beautiful, competitive and give a good harvest, the least problems in this area. But for the last 20 plus years, originators and primary producers have not received a dime from the state.
Many stations are dilapidated and borrowed, they need to be revived and developed, ”complained Vladimir Kashin. The revival of seed production: when to wait for “seedlings” One of the main problems that impedes the development of seed production in Russia is outdated legislation. The law "On Seed Production" has not changed since its inception in the mid-90s. And although there have been separate attempts to update it, not one has gained legal force.
According to Vladislav Korochkin, a member of the Public Council under the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation, the norms of this document are actually kept in isolation of Russian farmers. “It is necessary to amend many regulations that impede the free circulation and export of seeds, impede the import and exchange of genetic material for those who want to engage in the selection of both official scientific institutions and just interested breeders,” the expert said.
Given the relevance of the issue of developing seed production, plans have already appeared in the State Duma to finalize the Law on Seed Production. This information was confirmed by the “Parliamentary newspaper” Vladimir Kashin, noting that it is necessary to update this sector of agriculture “across the vertical”, including the creation of a scientific base and the development of a system for the production of improved planting stock.
The issue of improving the technological base is most acute for our state, added Alexander Polyakov, a member of the Duma Committee on Agrarian Issues. “In our country, obsolete technologies of 20-30 years ago are used, and many Russian scientists have left to work in foreign breeding centers. The situation needs to be turned in the opposite direction, ”the deputy is sure. Since last year, the Government has been working on the revival of seed production and selection.
On behalf of President Vladimir Putin, the Ministry of Agriculture developed the Federal Scientific and Technical Program for the Development of Agriculture for 2017-2025. It provides for individual subprograms on the development of selection and seed production of potatoes, as well as beets, vegetables, sunflower and corn.
Judging by the roadmap of this project, both of them should already be in the process of implementation.
The fact that the state put the priority on the development of seed production as a priority was also confirmed by the deputy chairman of the Federation Council Committee on agrarian food policy and nature management Irina Geht. “Today, the creation of seed-growing stations and breeding centers is subsidized. And they, in principle, have already begun to be created, for example, in St. Petersburg and the Chelyabinsk region, ”the senator told the Parliamentary Newspaper.
There is also understanding from local businesses, she added. So, large agricultural holdings are increasingly creating their own breeding and seed centers. “That is, this is a mutual movement both from business and from the state.
I think that in the next five to seven years we will solve this problem, ”the parliamentarian emphasized.
Foreign countries will help us
No matter how strange it may sound, the development of Russian seed production is generally impossible without a foreign country. A member of the Public Council under the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation, Vladislav Korochkin, said this in a commentary to “Parliamentary Newspaper”.
It's all about the quality of the seeds, which only a favorable climate can provide. According to him, seeds grown in Russia may have more “unconditioning” precisely because of bad weather conditions: somewhere there is not enough sun, somewhere it is too cold or there is not enough water for irrigation, somewhere it rained during the harvest and etc. However, these problems are familiar to foreign manufacturers, especially from Northern Europe. So the seed growers are looking for the most favorable territories around the globe.
Most promising fields are in the Southern Hemisphere. Related infrastructure, farms, subcontracting organizations and everything else is developing there, which also affects more efficient and cheaper seed production, said Vladislav Korochkin. “The Dutch, for example, produce almost no seeds at home - they grow them in the USA, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand and other countries,” the source of the Parliamentary Gazeta said.
Russian vegetable companies, he said, do the same for the same reasons: they grow 80 percent of their own varieties and hybrids abroad. In addition, manufacturers offset the seasonality factor. “When it’s winter, it’s summer in the Southern Hemisphere, the seeds ripen. By the time we start sowing, they are being harvested, that is, they come to us fresh, ”explained a member of the Public Council at the Ministry of Agriculture.
How to get off the “needle” of seed imports
Russia needs new selection achievements in order not to depend on imported seeds, Alexander Polyakov, member of the State Duma Committee on Agrarian Issues, is convinced. Using the example of his native Tambov region, he showed the “Parliamentary Newspaper” how regions are looking for ways to develop independently.
Tambov region is an agricultural region, but the region also faces serious problems in the field of seed production.
For example, the lack of quality seed holds back potato yields. To increase the volume of its production and drive out imports, an investment project was launched to build a breeding and seed-growing center. It will use innovative biotechnology methods that will allow you to grow virus-free seeds. In general, 13 seed farms were registered in the Tambov region, and all of them are aimed at producing seeds of high reproductions of promising varieties. Serious work is being done by the branch of the Russian Agricultural Center in the Tambov Region, especially in terms of monitoring the quality of seed, phytosanitary monitoring of crops and the spread of dangerous pests, as well as advice on combating them.
Deal with Western Agrotitan: a threat or a blessing?
While the seed sector is preparing to “rise from the ashes of the 90s,” foreign companies can take over the market. According to Senator Irina Hecht, the concern is primarily the merger of the German company Bayer and the American producer of herbicides and GMO seeds Monsanto.
Today, the creation of seed-growing stations and breeding centers is subsidized. And they, in principle, have already begun to be created, for example, in St. Petersburg and the Chelyabinsk region. FAS approved the deal in Russia, obliging the corporation to share the “secrets of success” with Russian farmers so that they can develop and compete. This is a five-year collaboration in the field of digital biotechnology.
Among other things, Bayer - Monsanto will transfer seed technology: molecular agents for the selection of corn, rape, soybeans, wheat, as well as individual germplasm (collections of genetic material) of tomatoes, cucumbers, cabbage and crops listed above.
The FAS evaluates this deal with the agro-giant positively, hoping that this will help the development of the domestic agricultural sector. But senators do not see anything optimistic in this event. “After the merger, Bayer - Monsanto will become virtually monopolists in the global seed market. Here we see a threat to both national security and food, ”commented Irina Geht.
Experts on agricultural issues in the media also express skepticism: in their opinion, the technologies provided by the monopolist will not help Russian producers in any way, since they will not be able to use them because of the outdated material base and lack of experience.
A source: www.nsss-russia.ru