MOSCOW – Three Western seed producers have suspended sunflower seed shipments to Russia and paused customers’ bids for purchases, the Izvestia newspaper reported on Monday, citing letters received by several Russian agricultural firms.
According to the report, Germany’s Bayer, Swiss agrochemicals group Syngenta and seed firm Nuseed have suspended contracts with some Russian customers and revised prices.
“As of Feb. 1, we are discontinuing existing invoices for sunflower seeds, suspending shipments, the creation of new invoices and also the processing of all incoming orders for shipments of sunflower hybrid seeds,” Izvestia quoted Syngenta as saying in a letter.
It added that this measure was taken due to “restrictions on the import of hybrid sunflower seeds from a number of countries”.
Syngenta declined to comment. Bayer and Nuseed did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment.
Russia’s agriculture safety watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor said in a statement last week that it had suspended seed shipments from Syngenta Seeds from Feb. 1, citing concerns about the spread of phomopsis, a fungal disease that affects sunflowers.
It said imports of seeds from Syngenta Espana and Syngenta France had been banned from Nov. 21 for the same reason.
Eduard Zernin, head of the Russian Union of Grain Exporters, said the decision to suspend imports “was made over a batch of a particular supplier’s seeds, but caused an inflated and inappropriate reaction from other companies, in our view”.
“The synchronised nature of the letters also raises questions,” he added.
Izvestia reported Russia’s agriculture ministry as saying the market has already stocked up on what it needs and does not see any risks for the 2023 sowing campaign, even if Western seed suppliers decide to completely withdraw from Russia.
Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev said in January that his ministry had not abandoned plans for quotas on seed imports. Izvestia quoted the agriculture ministry on Monday as saying it does not impede seed imports if they meet all product safety requirements.