A political hot potato


24 March 2022
Report details export controversy

Brian Henderson, reporter for The Scotsman, has reported on the controversy surrounding the export of Scottish seed to Russia. Here we detail some of his findings. 

IN what has already been a bad year for seed potato growers, the sector has found itself unwittingly embroiled in controversy over the export of a consignment of Scottish seed to Russia.

While there is no legal impediment to the export and there are no sanctions on the sale of agri-food products to the state, widespread sentiment has been expressed that the reported 2000 tonnes consignment destined to grow crops for crisp production should not go ahead.

But industry insiders pointed out that, given the loss of the market with the EU following Brexit, considerable effort had been put into finding new markets over recent years – adding that when the seed crops to supply this market had been planted last year there was no expectation that the areas would be embroiled in a major global conflict.

The Times reported that the seed was being exported by food giants Pepsico – the parent company of Walkers and Lays crisps - with the required phytosanitary certification being provided by SASA, a division of the Scottish Government Agriculture and Rural Delivery Directorate.

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Patrick Hughes of the Scottish Agri Export hub said that while there were no legal impediments to the export, the supply chain logistics for the delivery of the seed were likely to be problematic.

With most ports closed it was believed that the seed could be exported across Europe by lorry, a move which would require several border crossings and checks. It has been a tough year for seed growers, with the loss of the European market forcing producers to cast their eyes far and wide for alternative markets.

Scottish Conservative Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands, Rachael Hamilton told the Scotsman that the deal would sit uncomfortably with many, given Russia’s appalling invasion of Ukraine.

To read the full report, click here.

Source: The Scotsman  Photo: Monika Grabkowska


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