The Russian-Ukrainian conflict has destabilized the entire seed sector

Russia and Ukraine are the two main destinations for French seeds outside the European Union. The UFS, (French association of seed companies and plant breeders) held a press conference on April 14, 2022 to take stock of current and future impacts on its member companies.

On this occasion Claude Tabel, president of the UFS, pointed out that companies and their subsidiaries are engaging in research, production and distribution activities within Ukraine itself and that These activities, together with exports, account for a turnover of approximately 400 billion euros for French companies (100 billion euros of which are exports)”.

Keep employees safe

All activity ceased when the hostilities commenced, the priority being to ensure the safety of our staff. According to Claude Tabel, also Chairman of the Management Board of the RAGT group, “Families were relocated close to EU borders but male staff remained prepared for battle and some of our employees had to go to the front”. But for a few days activity resumed to the degree possible. “In general, seed deliveries were made in the months of December and January while the Ukrainian government set up green corridors.It is currently estimated that 75% of commercial seed exports arrived at their destination. In other words, they made it across the border. However, we simply do not know whether they have actually reached farmers”.

And the situation is even more complicated for so-called “basic” seeds”, i.e. those that need to be propagated in Ukraine and which are needed for next year’s seed production programs.To date, an estimated 70% of corn seeds and 75% of sunflower seeds have been delivered, but there is no guarantee that local farmers will be able to produce these crops, says Claude Tabel. Therefore, there is no doubt that this will have repercussions on future harvests since the sector may not be able to supply the quantities necessary for “normal” production.

Seed production plans disrupted

The international situation is also upsetting production plans in France.Owing to the unprecedented rise in the price of inputs and commodity crops, seed producers are wondering whether it is still in their interest to produce seed. We must therefore expect a decline in areas devoted to Spring crops (corn, soybean, sunflower). This also has the effect of mechanically increasing the isolation plots necessary for seed production” says Didier Nury, Vice-President of UFS and Managing Director of TOP Semences.

Other consequences, research programs conducted in Ukraine. “Research takes time and companies will have to forgo their work at least this season and possibly longer, which will have consequences on our fundamental programs,” continues Claude Tabel.

In this connection, the UFS has been in contact with the public authorities. “The government’s resilience plan must take this new situation into account and redefine and ensure public agricultural and food policies”.