Russia has cut back significantly on domestic fresh produce growing in recent years, filling the gap with increased imports, new figures show.
The area under vegetable cultivation fell nearly 20 per cent from 2004 to 2010, to 759,000 hectares, with yield declining by 11 per cent in the same period, according to the Dutch Product Board for Horticulture.
Fruit production declined even more sharply, by 43 per cent in area and by 37 per cent in production, with the area under apple and pear orchards falling by half.
At the same time, vegetable imports rose 91 per cent over the period, while fruit imports rose 86 per cent. The main supplier countries were Turkey, China, the Netherlands, Poland and Israel.
A recent Innovative Farmers conference heard how the network's programme of on-farm trials, or "Field Labs", involving around 1,000 farmers and growers is seeking usable practical findings that can be applied across farming.
A group of leading industry and research figures has agreed a series of agri-tech measures that will be recommended to Government as a means of making British farming more profitable and productive post-Brexit.
Defra's "Health & Harmony" consultation paper, which closed for responses this week, has given growers and their representative bodies a chance to shape the largest reformulation of farming and land-use policy in nearly half a century.