Putin urges to fill Russian market with domestic food quickly

President Vladimir Putin (R) and Agriculture Minister Alexander Tkachyov (RIA Novosti / Michael Klimentyev)
Russian President Vladimir Putin has tasked the new Agriculture Minister Aleksandr Tkachyov with strengthening the sector and solving import substitution goal quickly. Western food imports have been banned following the US and EU anti-Russia sanctions.

The president has instructed new Agriculture Minister Tkachyov and his predecessor Nikolai Fyodorov, who has become a presidential aide, to work closely with the regions to develop the sector, focusing on import substitution.

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“We need to fill our market with the products of our own domestic producers, and it should be done quickly in order to ease pressure on the food market, decrease prices, and so on," Putin said.

New Agriculture Minister Tkachyov has been the governor of Krasnodar Russia’s key wheat-producing region since 2000. He took over from Fyodorov, who has been at the helm of the Agriculture Ministry since 2012.

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Tkachyov assured the President he would do his best to justify the trust, and to push the industry towards greater import substitution, increasing production, reducing food prices, as well as creating favorable conditions for agricultural business and entrepreneurs.

Russian banned agricultural products from the EU, USA, Australia, Norway and Canada in August, in response to anti-Russia sanctions taken by the Western countries over the crisis in Ukraine.

The embargo has been seen as a trigger to boost domestic agriculture and a unique opportunity to develop import substitution.

The food embargo has already caused billions of dollars of losses on both sides, with Moscow now considering some relief. On Monday, Russia started quality control of fruits and vegetables from Hungary, Greece, and India in order to begin imports, with products from Cyprus to undergo similar tests next week. The countries asked Russia to cancel or reduce the food import embargo they face.