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Delegation to promote agriculture in Russia
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Members of a Council of Agriculture-led delegation that is to travel to Moscow next week hold a pre-departure news conference yesterday at the council’s offices in Taipei./Photo courtesy of CNA

A Council of Agriculture-led delegation is to travel to Moscow on Wednesday next week to take part in a two-day promotion of Taiwanese agricultural products.

Russia imports more than US$28 billion in agricultural produce, while yam exports to Russia could reach NT$300 per kilogram, the council said.

The quality of Taiwanese produce is undeniable, and while China, the US and Japan would remain the major export destinations for the nation’s agricultural products, the council is ready to develop a new market in Russia, as much of the produce grown in Taiwan is not found there, council Deputy Minister Chen Tien-shou said.

Department of West Asian and African Affairs Director Ali Yang at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said that the number of Russian tourists visiting Taiwan last year increased by 85 percent, or 10,000 individuals, from 2017.

MOFA Commonwealth of Independent States Section Director Chao Shih-hsuan said that more than 8,000 Russian tourists arrived in the first half of the year, and more are expected before the end of the year.

Russian commercial representatives were impressed with Taiwanese produce and enjoyed mangoes, wax apples and pineapples, Yang said.

They were able to take some mangoes with them when they returned home, after they were cleared by the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine, she said.

Russians really likes mangoes, council Department of International Affairs section official Tang Shu-hua said.

Russia’s predominate crop is potatoes, largely due to that nation’s climate, and the majority of the fruits and vegetables available there are imported, Tang said.

Russia imported US$28 billion in agricultural produce in 2017, while fruit imports last year reached US$5 billion, Tang said.

There are buyers even when retail prices for imported sweet potatoes reach NT$300 per kilogram, while a cluster of Taiwanese grapes has sold for NT$6,000, showing that Russia is a promising market, Tang added.

Local agricultural unions said that they support the delegation’s trip, as there could be a market in Russia in the fall for Taiwanese cabbage.

Orchid growers are also hoping to develop a direct export market in Russia for moth orchids.

At present, Taiwanese moth orchids are sent to Netherlands and then exported to Russia, Taiwan Floriculture Exports Association executive director Chuang Ping-huang said.

Since such orchids are a high-value product, growers could earn a higher revenue if they could be shipped directly to Russia, Chuang said.

Chang Shu-yi, an official with the Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Bureau of Foreign Trade, said that about 20 Russian importers of tea, coffee and agricultural produce have been invited to next week’s promotion.

The bureau was also planning to invite representatives of Russian chain supermarkets to visit Taiwan in October, Chang said.

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