Russia seen exporting 20M tonnes of grain

Russia may export up to 20 million tonnes of grain from this year’s crop if the harvest reaches 85-90 million tonnes, the head of the Russian Grain Union industry lobby said Monday.

“The export potential is 15 million. Maybe we can even export 20 million if the harvest reaches 85-90 million tonnes,” Arkady Zlochevsky said.

Russia has become increasing bullish on its 2011 grain harvest, with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Saturday announcing that the current export bank would be lifted from July 1.

He introduced the ban last August after a lengthy drought cut the 2010 harvest to 61 million tonnes from 97 million tonnes in 2009.

The Russian Grain Union’s previous forecast for this year’s crop was 85-87 million tonnes. The top end of the 85-90 million tonnes range is a 3.4 per cent increase from the previous forecast high, issued last week.

The official agriculture ministry forecast for the 2011 harvest is also 85-90 million tonnes, while analysts polled by Reuters last week see the crop at 86 million tonnes.

Resuming exports will relieve oversupplied farmers in the southern region, who cannot ship to deficit regions due to a lack of infrastructure and fear they will not have enough space in silos when the new crop comes in late July.

Zlochevsky also said that Russia has carry-over stocks of more than 20 million tonnes.

Annual domestic grain consumption is usually estimated at about 70 million tonnes, but Zlochevsky said it was far below this in the 2010-11 season.

“At the start of the season, we calculated that it would not be above 70 million tonnes, but in reality it was about 67.4 million tonnes,” he said.

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