French imports of Russian fertiliser surge since start of Ukraine war

French imports of fertiliser from Russia have shot up during the Ukraine war – leading to doubts over the government's promise to ensure that France is able to satisfy its own agricultural needs.

Between 60 and 70 percent of fertilisers used on French farms have traditionally come from abroad.

In 2021, 442,000 tonnes of fertiliser was brought in from Russia.

But in 2023, a year after President Vladimir Putin ordered his troops into Ukraine, 725,000 tonnes were imported.

Jean-Luc Bourgeaux, MP for Ille-et-Vilaine, raised his fears over the increase with the Ministry of Agriculture ahead of the International Agriculture Fair in February.

To offset possible criticism, French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal outlined a package of measures aimed at reassuring farmers that agriculture remained a top priority for President Emmanuel Macron's administration.

"France must be sovereign," Attal said at a press conference. "Agricultural sovereignty is our course."

Flanked by Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire, Agriculture Minister Marc Fesneau and Christophe Béchu – who holds the Ecological Transition portfolio – Attal added: "We want to place agriculture among the nation's fundamental interests in the same way as our defence or our security. I would remind you that there can be no country without farmers."

Ongoing dependence

But despite bold statements of self-sufficiency, dependence on foreign governments has been continuing.

Read more on RFI English

Read also:
EU to extend Ukrainian agriculture free trade, adding safeguards for farmers
Paris Agriculture Show opens as angry farmers continue quarrel over costs
French farmers stage tractor protests in Paris on eve of Agriculture Fair