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Agriculture, fishing, and forestry of Russia


The challenging conditions of the Russian climate are evident in the limited expanse of land allocated for agricultural purposes. The country dedicates less than 17% of its territory to agriculture, with a mere 10% being suitable for crop cultivation. Approximately 60% of this agricultural land is utilized for crop production, while the remainder supports pasture and meadowlands. Despite employing roughly 12.5% of the workforce, the agricultural sector contributes just over 5% to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP).

Grain production stands as the predominant activity within Russian agriculture, occupying more than half of the crop-growing land. Wheat is the principal grain, followed by barley, rye, and oats. Fodder crops, which include sown grasses, clovers, root crops, and corn (maize) in the southern areas, account for over a third of the planted terrain. The rest of the agricultural land is dedicated to industrial crops like sunflowers, sugar beets, and flax, in addition to potatoes and various vegetables.

The agricultural landscape of Russia is marked by significant regional disparities due to differences in topography, soil quality, and climatic conditions. In European Russia, the fraction of land cultivated with crops rises moving southward, from scarcely any in the northern territories to approximately two-thirds in the Central Black Earth region. Conversely, in the regions of West and East Siberia and the Far East, agricultural activity is primarily restricted to the southern periphery. Even in West Siberia, which boasts the broadest expanse of cultivated land, less than 10% of the region is used for crops, with this figure diminishing to almost negligible levels further east. Cereal cultivation dominates, representing over two-thirds of the cropland in most districts, except in the Northwest and Central areas where fodder and livestock assume greater significance. Farming practices, including livestock rearing, tend to be more intensive and yield higher outputs in the European part of Russia compared to Siberia.

Post-Soviet Russia has seen the continuation of collective and state farms, albeit under new designations such as cooperatives or labor-management enterprises. Privatization within the agricultural sector has encountered considerable challenges, with privatized farms often marginalized and provided with suboptimal or hard-to-reach land. Consequently, large-scale agricultural businesses, particularly in the Northern Caucasus and Volga economic regions, remain the primary grain producers.


The Russian Federation is home to the most extensive forest reserves on the globe, playing a pivotal role in the nation’s economy through its robust lumbering, pulp, paper, and woodworking sectors. Forests cover over 40% of Russia’s landmass, with the country holding in excess of 20% of Earth’s forested areas—an expanse comparable in size to the entire continental United States. However, the growth rate of these forests is notably slow, attributable to the harsh continental climatic conditions, leading to the loss of approximately one-third of the original forest territory since historical times. In response to this, the late 1990s saw the enactment of legislation aimed at curbing further deforestation. Despite these measures, the remaining pristine forest landscapes in northern European Russia remain under threat due to ongoing logging activities, with similar concerns arising in regions beyond the Ural Mountains.

The forestry sector is a significant source of employment in Russia, providing jobs to around one million individuals. Conifers dominate the tree species, with the country accounting for approximately 20% of the global production of softwood. Russia’s prominence extends to the production of a variety of other wood-based commodities, and it stands as one of the leading nations in this domain. The export of timber, sawn lumber, pulp, paper, cardboard, and roundwood plays a substantial role in the nation’s export revenues, underscoring the importance of the forestry industry to Russia’s economic landscape.


The fisheries sector constitutes a pivotal component of the Russian economy. Benefiting from the extensive marine resources of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, Russia has developed a robust marine fishing industry. Its fleet of processing vessels is equipped to handle substantial harvests even in the most distant waters. Key European maritime fishing hubs include Kaliningrad and St. Petersburg along the Baltic Sea, as well as Murmansk and Arkhangelsk in the northern extremities. On the Pacific front, Vladivostok stands as Russia’s principal port, supplemented by other significant ports in the Sakhalin and Kamchatka regions. While smaller in scale, fishing activities also occur in the Sea of Azov, the Black Sea, and the Caspian Sea, where the Caspian sturgeon, the source of the world’s premium caviar, is found. However, diminished river flows and contamination from agricultural runoff, industrial effluents, and sewage have led to a decline in fish stocks in these areas. Russia also boasts noteworthy inland fisheries in its lakes and rivers, supporting a considerable amount of aquaculture.

The magnitude of Russia’s fishing industry is comparable to that of other global leaders such as Japan, the United States, and China. Russia is responsible for approximately one-third of the global supply of canned fish and a quarter of all fresh and frozen fish on the international market. The privatization efforts of the 1990s redirected the industry from focusing on domestic needs to prioritizing exportation. Key species such as pollack, herring, cod, and salmon form the backbone of the industry’s output. The revenue Russia generates from fish exports consistently surpasses that from grain exports. The export market thrives on the sale of high-demand seafood items such as salmon, crabmeat, caviar, beluga, sterlet, and herring.

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