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4 Feb, 2020 19:34

Coronavirus food warning: PRICES DOUBLE in Russia’s Far East after Chinese border closed, vegetable supplies running scarce

Coronavirus food warning: PRICES DOUBLE in Russia’s Far East after Chinese border closed, vegetable supplies running scarce

Events in Russia's Far East rarely register on the global radar, but right now the remote region may serve as canary in the coalmine for dangers to food security if the new Chinese coronavirus goes global.

Prices of some products have doubled since Moscow ordered the closure of a series of border checkpoints last week. At the same time, supplies of vegetables have already started to dwindle, even though there is no official blanket ban on importing Chinese produce.

Speaking to Interfax, a spokesperson for Khabarovsk's largest retail chain Samberi confirmed that prices have risen throughout the Far East. The local Minister of Agriculture, Alexander Shkurin, told a government meeting that stores in the region have begun their search for alternative suppliers, including in distant Turkey.

Also on rt.com Russia closes its Far East border with China in attempt to prevent spread of new coronavirus

In neighboring Primorye, the regional government blamed its residents for the shortage of produce, highlighting that half of the regional market is accounted for by local vegetables, and most of the rest is imported from other regions of Russia with only a small percentage from China.

In even more isolated regions, such as Yakutia, the effect of low supply is felt extra harshly. The price of certain items has doubled. The head of the republic, Aisen Nikolaev, instructed the local government the prepare a cost-containment plan and Regional Deputy Prime Minister Denis Belozerov demanded that local suppliers stop speculating.

Prices for some vegetables, such as cucumbers, have doubled, as wholesalers begin to source their produce from Central Asia.

There is currently no official government ban on the supply of vegetables from China, but this has not prevented retail chains from taking emergency measures. Krasnodar's Magnit, a retail chain with over 15000 stores throughout the nation, announced that it had suspended the supply of fruits and vegetables from China amid the threat of coronavirus and increased logistic complexity.

Also on rt.com China tests Russian anti-viral drug which might treat coronavirus as Moscow warns of possible 'mass outbreak'

Despite the emergency measures, prices elsewhere in Russia haven't been affected, for now.

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