Russia’s Minister of Agriculture, Alexander Tkachev, reckons it will take five to seven years to develop domestic seed potato production sufficiently to be able to replace imported seed stock.
Speaking at a meeting on Monday about the development of potato breeding the Minister said imported potato seeds currently supply around 80% of the demand.
"We need to thoroughly understand what seeds work with our farmers, what potential is available for domestic selection and how we should build our work with research institutions to five to seven years, [so] Russian farmers could use mostly domestic potato seeds" said the Minister.
Russian seed potatoes resources currently include 409 varieties of which 209 are from Russian breeding and 200 of foreign selection.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture's analytical centre, most of the domestic potato varieties are not used by agricultural producers due to their low competitiveness and most successful domestic breeding varieties do not reach the farmers due to a lack of mechanisms to promote them.
The Minister also acknowledged that while the demand for ware potatoes is almost entirely supplied by domestic production, early spring potatoes are imported from other countries.
About 80% of the Russian potato crop, which reached 3mmt in 2016, is grown on small farms.