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Russia is back in the wheat business

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, Yelena Skrynnik was quoted as saying on Thursday.   

“We shall return to our position on the world grain market,” Interfax news agency quoted Skrynnik as saying. “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 told Reuters.   
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 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 and July 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.

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