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Russia may limit seed imports -Interfax

·1-min read

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's agriculture ministry has proposed that the government limits seed imports by setting up quotas, aiming to stimulate domestic production, the Interfax news agency quoted it as saying on Friday.

Russia, the world's largest wheat exporter, has long aimed to become less dependent on imported seeds for a number of crops but it still relies on foreign seeds for sugar beet, sunflower seeds and potato.

"We have been living on foreign seeds all along. Even those suppliers who told us they would never leave, they could get some kind of order from unfriendly countries, and 90% of the seeds are from unfriendly countries," Interfax reported, citing the first deputy agriculture minister Oksana Lut.

Russia has seen an exodus of foreign companies and suppliers from its market since it sent thousands of troops to Ukraine on Feb. 24.

Corteva, a major supplier of seeds, announced its decision to withdraw from Russia in May.

"Given that this is an element of food security, we cannot afford it, so we will move to a quota system for imported seeds, gradually lowering the quotas and realising that we are securing ourselves with seeds," Lut added, according to Interfax.

Limiting seed imports will have a negative impact on Russian agriculture production, Andrey Sizov at Sovecon agriculture consultancy said.

"Among the main crops, maize (corn) and sunflower could be the first to suffer. Some farmers could replace them with other crops such as wheat," Sizov added.

(Reporting by Reuters; editing by Jason Neely, Kirsten Donovan)

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