Grain harvesting underway in all Russian regions, 40 mln tonnes procured

MOSCOW, August 8 (Itar-Tass) —— Farmers in the Urals Federal District have started harvesting grain.

About 40 million tonnes of grain have been harvested across Russia up to date. The average yield is 3,000 kilograms per hectare compared to 2,160 kilograms per hectare last year, the Agriculture Ministry said on Monday, August 8.

Grain and grain legume crops have been harvested in an area of more than 13.3 million hectares (30 percent of the sown areas), including 30.3 million tonnes of wheat in more than 9.2 million hectares and over 5.4 million barley from an area of 2 million hectares.

The Southern Federal District has harvested about 18.5 million tonnes; the North Caucasus about 8.5 million tonnes, the Central Federal District about 8.3 million tonnes; the Volga region more than 4.3 million tonnes, and the Far East 87,100 tonnes of grain.

The Russian Grain Union expects 89-92 million tonnes of grain to be harvested in the country this year.

“The situation has been quite favourable so far,” Russian Grain Union Vice-President Alexander Korbut said earlier.

Wheat crop alone reach about 58 million tonnes.

First Vice Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov quoted experts as projecting a crop of 90 million tonnes in 2011, including 17 million for barley (6.5 million tonnes last year), and 850,000 tonnes for buckwheat (330,000 in 2010).

Agriculture Minister Yelena Skrynnik confirmed that Russia expects to harvest more buckwheat this year and there are no reasons for its price to grow.

“There was a speculative outburst last year. If it continues, the Federal Antimonopoly Service must interfere. This is its duty,” Skrynnik said.

“[Buckwheat] production volumes are sufficient to meet all needs,” she added.

Zubkov said 850,000 tonnes of buckwheat would be harvested this year. “In 2010, we had 350,000 tonnes and prices were hyped up to over 100 roubles per kilogram,” he said.

Korbut also expects grain prices to fall on the world markets.

“Even with stable prices for Russian grain, purchasing prices will most likely decrease,” he said.

He believes that “this is a very serious challenge for the government and the grain business in general”.

Korbut warned against allowing grain prices to fall below 5,000 roubles per tonne.

Zubkov said, however, that the Russian government expects the grain price of 5,200-5,600 roubles per tonne to stay on in July-September 2011.

“There is no need for customs and tariff regulation, as the president has said,” he said.

Zubkov stressed that the current domestic price is “still acceptable at around 5,200-5,600”.

“Of course, grain producers would like it to be over 6,000 [roubles per tonne] a more. But those who consume grain – mills, combined fodder plants – find this price most comfortable. So we should try to keep these prices for July, August and September,” he said.

Korbut admitted that Russian grain prices are slightly lower than the average world grain price due to the grain export ban that was imposed in Russia last August and was lifted from July 1, 2011.

In his opinion, it will take some time for prices to equalise. “Two years for sure,” he added.

Skrynnik believes that Russia will be able to regain its export positions on international markets this year.

This year’s yield is 3,500-3,600 kilograms per hectare. In 2009, which was considered a good year, it was 3,100 kilograms per hectare, she said.

“So, our crop expectations appear to be quite good, and there are two figures we are discussing: 85 million and 90 million tones,” the minister said.

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