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23 Apr 2020

Belarus’ ministry describes Russia’s refusal to supply buckwheat as complete surprise

Belarus’ ministry describes Russia’s refusal to supply buckwheat as complete surprise
An archive photo

MINSK, 23 April (BelTA) - This year, Belarus will stop importing buckwheat and will fully meet the needs of the domestic market in buckwheat following the president’s instruction, Head of the Main Department for Foreign Economic Activities of the Belarusian Agriculture and Food Ministry Aleksei Bogdanov told the media on 22 April, BelTA has learned.

According to Aleksei Bogdanov, Belarus has been importing buckwheat from Russia since Soviet times. Russia’s soil and climatic conditions are more favorable for the production of different types of cereals, including buckwheat. That's why permanent supplies have been organized and long-term contracts have been concluded.

“Belarus is a good trade and economic partner. It is profitable for Russia to supply us with buckwheat, which we do not produce in the amounts enough for the country. All of a sudden, we have been refused in supplies. The decision took us aback. Even paid batches could not have been shipped within the Union State. The loaded containers are on standby, with no phytosanitary certificates issued,” he said.

The head of state could not ignore the issue and instructed to deal with it as soon as possible. Restrictions were introduced on 20 March. On 21 March, the prime ministers of Belarus and Russia had a telephone conversation to discuss the matter. Then, experts at various levels had been working on the issue for almost a month, until 15 April, when the restrictions were lifted.

According to the Belarusian Agriculture and Food Ministry, buckwheat supplies from the Russian Federation in March 2020 contracted by 70% as against the same month last year. In general, almost 20% of buckwheat was undersupplied to the Belarusian market from the Russian Federation in Q1 2020.

“Of course, this was an acute problem. In this situation, the head of state made a decision, and it was absolutely right, to double the area under buckwheat during the sowing campaign, which will allow us to provide our domestic market with 20,000  tonnes of buckwheat that is 100% of the needs this year. The instruction to increase domestic production will help us meet the domestic needs in buckwheat in full and even secure partial exports,” Aleksei Bogdanov said.

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