ROSTOV-ON-DON, RUSSIA — The last 10 months of food import restrictions have shown that Russia is capable of feeding itself, said Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who participated in the National Food Security Forum on June 5.
Food imports fell by almost a third in the first five months of the embargo, he said, and although traditional partners, especially in Europe, are gone, the domestic market has barely noticed their absence. Last year, he said Russia ensured the local supply of four out of eight kinds of products needed for food security – grain, sugar, vegetable oil and potatoes.
Medvedev said the nation’s agricultural sector is growing more competitive. Exports of agricultural products and foodstuffs rose by more than 40% last year.
“Certain prices do remain a problem, but at the same time the supply of domestic products and certain imports from other countries have significantly increased,” Medvedev said.
To promote the growth of the domestic market, he said Russia has launched five new projects under a state program that should lead to increased production of vegetables, fruit, milk and meat.
The planned amount of state support this year is greater than in the past. In 2014, Russia allocated 187 billion Rubles ($3.3 billion) for the state program, and in 2015, it was 220 billion Rubles.
Russia’s agricultural sector has received extensive government support over the last 10 years, he said, including a national project for the development of agriculture and related industries.
“In fact, it was only the first step toward building a government support system for domestic agriculture, and its results were then incorporated into state programs and the food security doctrine,” he said during the forum.
The nation’s strategic goals remain modern agriculture, a high-tech food industry, a competitive trading system and modern machinery production.
“All of that should lay the groundwork for food security,” Medvedev said. “All the decisions that have been taken during the past year to support agriculture will remain in place, including the amount of financing, which will be increased with more or less stable economic growth.”