Russia may become grain net importer

Russia may turn to be a net-importer of grain instead of being an exporter this year, Moscow's Vedomosti daily reported on Thursday.

According to a source in the Agriculture Ministry, in 2010-2011 Russia may import 5 million tons of grain.

This is a done decision, the source said, adding that the government currently discussed the volume of such an import.

Grain is to be shipped from Kazakhstan, Russia's partner in the Custom Union, Vedomosti reported.

The Agriculture Ministry declined discussing the issue. However, Kazakhstan confirmed it has designated 2 million tons of grain for export to Russia and other countries, Interfax news agency reported.

Russia has imposed a temporary ban on grain exports since Aug. 15 due to the high temperature and drought this summer.

To reach zero balance in 2010, Russia needs to harvest about 60 million tons of grain. By Thursday, over 40 million tons have been harvested on 54 percent of the areas under crops. Official forecast remains at the level of 60 to 67 million tons.

In 2009, Russia imported 400,000 tons of grain. This was the lowest level since the start of the decade.

[Source: Xinhua, Moscow, 19Aug10]

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