Record harvests and top export rankings are things we've come to expect from the Russian agro-industrial complex in all key areas. However, the selection branch remains vulnerable, and a separate discussion at the Golden Autumn exhibition covered this issue.
Oksana Lut, First Deputy Minister of Agriculture, mentioned that the development of genetics and selection is addressed in the updated Federal Scientific and Technical Program for the Development of Agriculture. Priority tasks of the Ministry include localization of production and seed quotas. By March 1, all participants of the Russian agricultural market, both domestic and foreign, shall submit their plan for addressing this challenge until 2030 horizon. Everyone will be called to the task! “Some foreign companies submit old hybrid schemes and are trying to avoid the localization plan. These insinuations will definitely fail,” Oksana Lut warned. “Through selection, we need to take a “one down step” together.”
The resolution on quotas has already come into force on October 1. Shortly, the Ministry of Agriculture will estimate based on data from Rosselkhoznadzor what seeds and in what quantity shall be imported to Russia. For some crops, including sunflower, there is no need to import material at all, since Russia already has a strong seed base of this crop hybrids. “Inducing the development of domestic selective breeding is a key factor in achieving the key indicators of the food security doctrine,” said Ivan Muzylev, Director of the Department of Selection and Seed Production of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation. “The main task is to improve the quality of seed material. Thanks to the taken measures, by 2030 we plan to reach a 75% supply of seeds having domestic origin.”
Ekaterina Zhuravleva, the head of the research and production platform “Selection and Genetic Research, Cell Technologies, and Genetic Engineering (related to crop production)” under the Research & Educational Center (REC) “Innovative Solutions in the Agro-Industrial Complex”, advisor to the Сhairman of EFKO's Board of Directors, noted that special attention is required to promote employment in the agro-industrial complex: “Most people have a stereotypical idea of agricultural professions. The so-called wide funnel shall be created by explicitly designing career advice programs and exposing school students to the agro-industrial complex as early as possible.” Among the cases of successful practices, Ekaterina Zhuravleva mentioned joint scientific publications of scientists and schoolchildren, as well as the “City Farming” and “Volunteer Naturalist” projects implemented actively involving the REC of the Belgorod Oblast. The first project introduces students to cultivating the land: together with teachers they cultivate small plots right next to schools. The second one provides for the implementation of creative would-be-scientific projects, and in just a month it managed to involve more than 30 thousand participants.