Russian Farmers Won’t Be Able to Compensate for Embargo for Five Years

September 5, 2014
"[Russian] farmers not planning to expand production." Photo: RIA Novosti / Egor Eryomov

Staunton, September 5 – “Import substitution” may be the latest term to enter the vocabulary of Russians, but experts say that Russian farmers will not be able to produce enough additional food for the domestic market to compensate for the embargo the Kremlin has imposed on imports unless that measure stays in place for at least five years.

While Russian farmers can produce more of many things, Moscow experts say, they can do so only over the course of months or years given the often large amount of time between deciding to produce more and the achievement of that goal, according to Valery Kushchuk of “Profil.”

Farmers may be able to produce more apples but only after a season and more meat but only after several years. And because of the uncertainties of what the nature of the marketplace that far in the future will be, few Russian farmers are prepared to take the risk to produce more given that in many sectors they would not be competitive if imports were resumed.

That is all the more the case, the experts Kushchuk cites say, because most Russian retailers are now trying to import food products from non-Western countries, an entirely reasonable step given that the Kremlin’s decision was a sanction on the West rather than an effort to support domestic producers.

But that has two consequences for Russian consumers. On the one hand, quality control in many of the countries which are now Russia’s suppliers is much worse than in the countries from which it had imported food, thus putting consumers at risk of illness. And on the other, farmers have an additional reason to adopt a wait-and-see attitude and not boost production.