Friday, 3 March 2017

Russia produced a record fruit harvest in 2016

Russia really does seem to have an issue with imported plant and animal breeding materials or at least the First Deputy Minister of Agriculture does.

For the second time this week he has brought up the subject of replacing foreign genetic material with home grown stuff and the development of domestic breeding lines.

First off it was cattle when, at the opening ceremony of the "Milk and Meat Industry" exhibition, he outlined a number of challenges facing the sector including the development of domestic breeding.

Now he’s turned his attention to fruit.

The Minister was taking part in an All-Russia meeting on the preparation of spring field works, in Tambov this week when he said the main problem that hinders the growth of domestic fruit production was the continuing dependence on imported planting material.

Surely using the best root stock available, be that homegrown or imported is the best option and presumably, growers are using expensive, imported materials because there isn't a domestic alternative.

Rather than a hindrance to production, I would say using imported rootstock might actually be beneficial. 

The Minister noted that the country produced a record amount of fruits and berries last year - 3.3 million tonnes, which is 15% higher than a year earlier (because it rained) but still imported 1.6 million tonnes.

Another participant at the meeting pointed out that thanks to government support the greatest number of new orchards (14,600ha) was planted last year but it will be necessary plant a further 500ha annually to achieve self-sufficiency.

The Minister said that according to experts, Russia can grow at least 12 million tonnes of fruits and berries, which means not only that they could fully support themselves they would export a substantial surplus.