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Putin appoints new agriculture minister to boost food production

Russian President Vladimir Putin has named Alexander Tkachev the new agriculture minister. Tkachev is to strengthen food production after Russia reacted to Western sanctions by banning food imports from the EU and US.

Alexander Tkachev was appointed Moscow's new agricultural minister, the Kremlin said on Wednesday, adding that he would be charged with strengthening the sector.

"We need to fill our market with our own products, the products of domestic producers, and we need to do it quickly, to ease pressure on the food market, decrease prices and so on," Putin said at a meeting announcing Tkachev's appointment. The 54-year-old minister replaces Nikolai Fyodorov, who was being moved to an advisory role in the Kremlin.

Russia banned Western food imports until August 2015 after the European Union and United States accused it of supporting separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine and

subsequently imposed sanctions.

Putin said the food ban was a good opportunity to improve Russia's agricultural industry. However, domestic producers had neither the capacity nor the right quality to replace food from abroad. This caused an increase in food prices.

Moscow is now pinning its hopes on Tkachev, who has been serving as the governor of Krasnodar since 2001. The region produces nearly 12 million tons of wheat every year, contributing more than 10 percent to Russia's wheat exports.

mg/sms (AFP, dpa)

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