Trade associations in Russia are warning that the country’s planting campaign will be disrupted if farmers are called up for military service, according to an AgriCensus report.
The warning followed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s confirmation at a meeting of regional leaders on 27 September that farm workers would be eligible for military service as part of the country’s partial mobilisation of reservists to fight in Ukraine, the report on the same day said.
Farming groups said that the move could bring ‘disruption’ both to the final stages of the current harvest and the key planting stages of the next crop, according to the report.
“I would like to address the heads of regions and heads of agricultural companies. Within the framework of partial mobilisation, agricultural workers are also called up. Their families need to be supported. Please pay special attention to this issue,” Putin was quoted as saying.
“And now I am addressing not only those governors who are in touch and take part in our work today, in our meeting, but in general to all the governors of Russia, to all leaders,” he added.
Although Putin did not give further details on the subject during the meeting, officials reported on the progress of sowing and planting campaigns, which was currently ongoing and required workers in the fields.
In Stavropol region alone, around 30,000 people are expected to be involved in autumn field work, according to Vladimir Vladimirov, head of the region.
Agro-industrial unions had asked the government for a deferment from the partial mobilisation, AgriCensus quoted from local media reports.
The Association of Nurseries and Gardeners of the Stavropol Territory, for example, had sent a letter to the Ministry of Agriculture saying that “mobilisation of workers employed in the industrial nursery and horticulture sectors will lead to the disruption of the harvesting campaign and the disruption of the technological features of production.”
The Russian Grain Union was also considering asking the government for a delay in calling up qualified workers, not only to allow field work but also for the processing industry, the report said.
While the Russian grain and oilseeds harvest was nearing completion with 88% of the crop harvested, the report said winter sowing had only just started with around 9ha planted.
This year’s Russian crop is expected to reach a record level, according to the AgriCensus report, with the wheat crop expected to exceed 100M tonnes and the total grain harvest totalling around 150M tonnes.