Mycotoxins to become a stick in the spokes of Russian agricultural exports

Increasing Russian grain production could push the country to look more closely at mycotoxins to take advantage of new export opportunities.  


Russia is set to ramp up agricultural production and exports in the next few years, but mycotoxin contamination remains an open challenge hindering the export of more products to foreign markets. By 2024, Russia plans to invest 818 billion rubles ($11 billion) in 1 200 export-oriented agricultural projects, says Dmitry Krasnov, chairman of the Russian state export development body Agroexport. This money is expected to boost Russian agricultural exports by as much as $4.9 billion per year, from $30.6 billion in 2020, he added.  

Since the early 2000s, Russia has become an agricultural powerhouse, transitioning from a net wheat importer to the world's largest wheat exporter. However, there is more to come. The country has yet to realize its full potential, especially because global warming is rendering areas covered in permafrost suitable for agricultural activities.  

"Russia produces 120-130 million tonnes of grain annually, but it could push this figure towards 200-250 million tonnes per year and, accordingly, export twice as much grain. Crop production can become a driver for the development of the domestic economy," said Aleksey Ivanov, director of the Institute of Law and Development of the Russian Higher School of Economics. "We account for 9% of the world's planted areas, while our share in global grain exports stands at 5%," Ivanov said, adding that when it comes to yields, domestic production could ultimately reach new levels. Crop production, especially wheat production, can become the "new oil" of the Russian economy, Ivanov said, referring to the fact that hydrocarbon exports have accounted for nearly half of Russian revenue in recent decades. Ivanov added that grain production development is expected to be crucial for Russian provinces that will be able to participate in carbon farming, the set of practices that improve the rate at which CO2 is removed from the atmosphere and converted to plant material.  


Vegetable production keeps up  

As with grain, Russia seems to be on the fast track to abandon vegetable imports and expand export supplies. The Russian state agricultural bank Rosselhozbank forecasted that the share of vegetable imports will drop from the current 16% to 10% by 2025, thanks to the rapid growth currently seen in the greenhouse sector. "The development of greenhouse vegetable production will compensate for the decline in the share of imports and a drop in output from backyard farms," according to Rosselhozbank’s analytical department. "In general, we forecast that in the medium term, greenhouse vegetable production in Russia may grow by 575 000 tonnes, of which 290 000 tonnes will partly substitute for lower imports, and 285 000 will meet the needs of rising domestic consumption." The department expects tomatoes to be the primary driver of import substitution. Cucumber imports are expected to shrink by a factor of three to 36 000 tonnes by 2025, Rosselhozbank forecasted. Domestic consumption is set to climb by 120 000 tonnes, while domestic production is expected to increase by 185 000 tonnes. Rosselhozbank’s analytical department also noted that "The consumption of fresh vegetables in Russia will increase by about 1% annually and will reach 115 kg per capita by 2028

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