RUSSIA – In a move that threatens to escalate tensions between Russia and Moldova, Russia’s Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Surveillance (Rosselkhoznadzor) has reinstated import restrictions on fruits and vegetables from Moldova, effective from December 4, 2023.

The agricultural watchdog cited concerns over the “systematic detection of elements subject to quarantine” in Moldovan produce, warning of potential “multi-billion dollar damage” to Russia’s agricultural production.

The statement from Rosselkhoznadzor revealed that the decision was a result of Moldova’s alleged failure to take effective measures to prevent the supply of regulated products containing quarantine elements.

The move follows a temporary restriction imposed on August 15, 2022, which was initially attributed to the unfavorable phytosanitary situation in Moldova.

The Russian agency had gradually eased these restrictions starting from December 2022, but the recent decision indicates a resumption of more stringent measures, citing persistent concerns over the quality of imported fruits and vegetables.

In response, the Moldovan National Agency for Food Safety (ANSA) swiftly labeled Russia’s decision as “groundless.”

“The decision by the Russian authorities contradicts phytosanitary principles and is in no way grounded in real arguments. Laboratory evidence underscores the absence of any harmful organisms,”  it said in a statement.

The dispute underscores the complexities surrounding agricultural trade, with both countries expressing differing views on the phytosanitary conditions and measures taken to ensure the safety of imported produce.

Agriculture has traditionally been and remains the main pillar of the Moldovan economy. More than one million tons of fresh fruits and vegetables are produced annually, with 80 percent of the total production taking place in individual households.  Ninety percent of locally processed fruits and vegetables are exported.

Moldova’s vegetable crops include tomatoes, onions, cabbage, cucumbers, pumpkins, peppers, carrots, red beets, garlic, squash, eggplants, potherbs, and green peas. 

Fruit production concentrates on apples, plums, sweet and sour cherries, pears, peaches & nectarines, quinces, apricots, soft fruit, walnuts, and table and wine grapes.

The decision has potential ramifications not only for bilateral trade but also for the agricultural sectors of both Russia and Moldova, adding a layer of complexity to an already intricate geopolitical landscape

For all the latest fresh produce industry news updates from Africa, the Middle East, and the World, subscribe to our NEWSLETTER, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.