Russia’s Farms, Locavorism Prospering from Ban on Western Imports

A self-imposed ban on Western goods has sparked the Russian people’s interest in local and sustainable agriculture

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

In the weeks following Putin’s ban on all imports from the Western world — in retaliation for sanctions against Russia due to military aggression in the Ukraine — Russian citizens suffered the most. The prices of food in Russia rose dramatically, and meanwhile, farmers in the European Union were left with a surplus of crops that they were told to destroy in order to keep prices stable.

Some months later, the struggle to accommodate consumer needs has actually nurtured Russia’s fledgling farm-to-table movement, and a new age of independence and agricultural potential.

A profile in The New York Times this week highlights the newfound prominence of organic farmers who have suddenly become invaluable to the country’s supply chain, like Boris Akimov, an organic farmer and founder of the country’s farm-to-table movement, who was pursued by a number major Russian grocery chains and asked, “how many chickens and eggs could he provide… and could he deliver 100 tons of cheese, say, immediately.”

Though the country has a long way to go, and of course, a formidable Russian winter ahead, many farmers have seen the potential for a greater investment in local food from the entire country.

“The main thing which the sanctions have already changed is in people’s minds — in government, in business and on the streets, they have started to think more about where their food comes from,” Mr. Akimov said in an interview with The New York Times. “If the sanctions give a chance to develop local farmers, to develop sustainable agriculture, it is very good. But I am not sure it will happen.”

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Karen Lo is an associate editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @appleplexy.

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