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Russian Federation: Analysis of the Agribusiness Sector in Southern Russia

Report N. 13 - January 2009









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    This report is part of a series by the FAO Investment Centre/European Bank for Reconstruction and Development Cooperation Programme which presents sector reviews and studies undertaken in Central and Eastern Europe on development issues and innovative areas to increase investment in the region. World fish production (capture and aquaculture) is likely to increase in response to growing consumer demand and higher prices. Most fish produced, traded and consumed in the Russia Federation is from cap ture fisheries. The Russian market for fish and seafood products has become one of the most dynamic segments in the national agrifood sector. Primary fish production and processing of fish and seafood were the two major segments considered in this study for the identification of potential investment partners in the Russian Federation. This report was commissioned by EBRD and financed by the Government of Japan and FAO. It was prepared by the FAO Investment Centre in close collaboration with expe rts from Eurofish, FAO Fisheries Department and Russian governmental fisheries agencies.
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    The Russian Federation’s sugar industry has expanded output dramatically over the past ten years. As a result, the country has steadily reduced its reliance on imports. The stimulus for this expansion can be traced back to privatization of farms and factories in the early 1990s. However, sector development started only after the government has implemented the current system of variable import duties to protect local producers from volatile world market prices starting 2004. High domestic sugar prices accelerated investment and the expansion of the sector in the Russian Federation, as local beet prices increased by more than those of alternative arable crops. With these foundations in place, the industry has been willing to invest heavily to develop the sector further, with these investments having been focussed in two areas in particular: (i) consolidation and modernization of the beet processing sector and (ii) intensify beet production and secure greater raw material supplies for their factories.
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    In recent years, private equity funds that invest a substantial part or all of their capital in primary agriculture have increased both in number and volume globally. Investment in primary agriculture is an emerging asset class among private equity funds and other institutional investors, one that has attracted increasing attention following the commodity price spikes and associated warnings on food security from 2007 to 2008. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is now considering investment in such funds as part of its operations. The purpose of this study, conducted under the FAO/EBRD cooperation, is to help the EBRD understand and assess the benefits and risks of investment in primary agriculture, in particular through private equity funds, in selected countries which are significant producers of agricultural commodities.

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