MOSCOW, Dec 7 (Reuters) - Switzerland's Syngenta is considering setting up local production facilities of crop protection products in Russia rather than relying on importing its products, the head of its Russian office said on Thursday.
Russia, one of the world's largest wheat exporters, has boosted its grain production in recent years despite Western sanctions imposed on it in 2014 but is reliant on imports of seeds and crop protection.
"We are actively investing in Russia... We are thinking of organising our own production of crop protection products," Jonathan Brown, the head of Syngenta's Russian office, told a conference in Moscow.
Syngenta's Board of Directors will decide whether to go ahead with the project in the first quarter of 2018, he told Reuters on the sidelines of the conference.
"After this (decision) we will be moving quickly," Brown said.
Syngenta has already invested 1 billion roubles ($17 million) in research and development projects in Russia, including $2 million which it spent on an institute of crop protection this year.
The company has already told the Russian government that it is considering producing locally enough herbicide to cover 80 percent of its Russian sales by 2019. By 2021, it plans to be producing in Russia 80 percent of all the crop protection products that are sold domestically, Brown told Reuters.
Syngenta is controlled by ChemChina after a takeover this year, and its Chinese ownership may make it easier to develop its business in Russia as Moscow is keen to improve its relations with Beijing and encourage investment from Chinese companies.
Russia's relationship with Western countries remains strained after the latter imposed sanctions due to Russia's annexation of the Crimea peninsula and its role in the crisis in Ukraine's eastern regions.
Domestic production will make Syngenta more flexible in its production and will ease its logistics, a spokesman said, adding the company is still deciding on whether to build its own plants or to buy existing facilities.
$1 = 59.2374 roubles Reporting by Olga Popova; additional reporting by John Miller; writing by Polina Devitt; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle; editing by