Krasnodar, 15 December – Yug Times. Our today’s guest is Mikhail Radchenko, CEO of the National Rice Union.
Q.: How did the last season work for the rice industry?
A.: This year, about 110 thousand hectares of rice were sown in the Kuban region. I would estimate these areas as significant, bearing in mind the situation with the Fedorovsky Hydroelectric Complex, whose repairs will be completed only in 2026. At the very beginning, we had planned to sow no more than 92,300 hectares with rice. But taking into account the works aimed at strengthening the temporary dam and upon consulting with the regional Ministry of Agriculture, it was decided to increase the sowing area to 110,000 hectares.
Q.: What kind of rice prevails in the crops, and what varieties have been cultivated recently?
A.: Basically, we sow medium-grain varieties of rice in the Krasnodar region; they occupy about 85% of the planting acreage. In response to the requests of rice processing companies, the remaining 10-15 per cent of the area was allocated to coarse-grained varieties. And this year some farms started to grow long-grain varieties – in total, about 1 to 2%. This was due to the fact that India announced a ban on rice exports, while in the past we had been buying about 120,000 tonnes of long-grain rice from that country [every year]. In total, we used to import about 220,000 to 240,000 tonnes of rice; so now the task is to fill up the vacant niche. At the same time, it should be borne in mind that the factor that restrains the increase in production of long-grain varieties is not only their lower yield, but also a 7 to 10% lower yield of their groats. So far, there is no domestic long-grain rice on the shelves of Russian shops.
Q.: Where do we export our rice?
A.: Before the ban, we had exported medium-grain Kuban-grown rice to almost 50 countries, including all Mediterranean countries, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, and even Mongolia.
Q.: Is it worth cancelling the ban on rice exports?
A.: Russian rice growers, before the destruction of the Fedorovsky Hydroelectric Complex, used to export 140,000 to 160,000 tonnes of rice annually, while the production volume had been 1,100,000–1,200,000 tonnes. Since July 2022, the Russian Government introduced a ban on rice exports outside the EAEU.