July 22, 2011


Russia aims to become leading grain exporter again



Russia expects to reprise its role as a leading grain exporter this season thanks to a good harvest after last year's severe drought forced it to impose an export embargo, the Agriculture Minister said.


Russia sees grain exports of 18 million tonnes in the 2011-12 crop year that began this month, Agriculture Minister Yelena Skrynnik, said on Thursday (Jul 21).


"We shall return to our position on the world grain market," she said. "This year's export will total 18 million tonnes."


This is in line with the export estimate from leading Russian agricultural analysts SovEcon, who recently revised their forecast upwards by some three million tonnes to 18 million tonnes.


"Of this some 16 million will be wheat and some 1.5 million barley," SovEcon's CEO and President, Andrei Sizov, said.


Russia exported 18 million tonnes of wheat in the pre-drought 2009-10 season and 2.8 million tonnes of barley.


Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced the lifting of a ban on grain exports from July 1, bringing what was formerly the world's third-largest wheat exporter back to world grain markets.


First Deputy Prime Minister, Viktor Zubkov, said last week that customs officials had already received requests to clear 6.5 million tonnes of grain for export, of which the country expected to export 1.5 million in July.


Russia exported 770,000 tonnes of grain between July 1-13, Zubkov said.


Skrynnik confirmed Russia may reap 85-90 million tonnes of grain this year, up from 61 million in 2010. "This is enough to cover internal needs and to build up an exportable surplus," she said.


Favourable weather at the end of June and beginning of July has led SovEcon to raise its crop forecast to 87-92 million tonnes from a previous 82-86 million tonnes.


The Institute for Agricultural Market Studies (IKAR) think tank has raised its crop forecast to 87 million tonnes from 85-86 million.


The state statistics agency Rosstat said on its website that farmers had increased the area sown with grains by 1.2% on-year to 44.1 million tonnes.


The latest Agriculture Ministry's harvesting progress report has shown that although the harvesting campaign was lagging behind last year's, average grain yields rose by a third to 3.7 tonnes per hectare.

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