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19 May, 2008 15:07

Russia must grow its own food - Putin

Vladimir Putin says Russia needs to cut its dependence on food imports in order to protect the population from sharp price rises. The Prime Minister made his comments during a visit to Stavropol region, the country’s agricultural heartland.

The PM said Russia had the potential to become an exporter of wheat, and to decrease its high dependence on imports.  Around 40% of meat and more than a quarter of dairy products consumed in Russia come from abroad.

“Our key goals are to secure the stable development of agricultural areas, to improve the quality of life on the land, to make the agro-industrial sector significantly more efficient and to increase the competitiveness of home-grown products. That way we can protect ourselves from sharp price fluctuations on the international markets,” Vladimir Putin said.
The PM said that stabilising prices for fertilizers and vehicle fuel, guaranteeing the risks of agricultural companies and providing access to long-term credits will draw investment into the sector.

“With the current level of grain prices, the grain sector is highly profitable. Another sector with a high potential for growth is milk. Because milk prices grew so sharply over the last year, the profitability of milk production grew too. We now regularly hear announcements of new investment into the sector. And it will continue to improve,” Andrey Sizov, Director of Sovecon farming consulting agency, said. 
The farm of the future already exists in Stavropol region, funded by the national projects programme.

It cost $US 30 million to build, including construction and the purchase of technology and livestock.