Russia will not ban wheat exports

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Despite drought lowering wheat yields in Russia this year, the government has decided not to impose a ban on grain exports. Russia is the world’s third largest grain exporter and has suffered yield losses after another year of drought. Last week, the country lowered its output forecasts for the second time in a week.

Russia’s agriculture ministry announced it expected 70 million to 75 million tonnes of all types of grain to be harvested this year. It had previously expected 75 million to 80 million tonnes.

Russia expects grain exports to be between 10 million and 14 million tonnes, which the government had projected earlier, according to Ministry chief Nikolai Fyodorov. Wheat usually represents 80 percent of Russia’s total grain export figure.

Drought in major wheat-producing countries, including the United States and in parts of Europe, have forced an increase in the price of wheat and bread in Russia and around the world.

Wheat harvest in Russia is behind compared to last year at this time. This year, wheat harvest has been reduced to 32.3 million tonnes compared with 39.6 million tonnes at the end of August 2011.

Russia’s decision to keep exports going could partly be fueled by its decision to ban exports during the 2010-2011 season when drought reduced yields. At that time, Russia’s export shortfalls helped fuel social unrest in the Middle East and North Africa. This year’s drought is putting a strain on the Russian economy and the country is seeing its largest political protests in Moscow since Soviet times.

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