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KAMYSHIN, Volgograd region, November 30 (Itar-Tass) —— Russia has exported 15.2 million tonnes of grain, First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov said.
“This is a good indicator. Export may amount to 17-18 million tonnes by January 1. We have set the target of 23-24 million tonnes. The rest is carry-over stocks that are quite big and will meet our needs until July 1,” Zubkov said at a meeting with local agricultural producers in Kamyshin, Volgograd region, on Wednesday, November 30.
“This year’s crop is 97-98 million tonnes of grain in bunker weight. Gross agricultural production increased by 17-18 percent from last year,” he said.
Russia has harvested 97.8 million tonnes of grain and legumes in bunker weight up to date compared to 63.7 million tonnes in 2010 and 101.9 million tonnes in 2009.
The yield is 23,200 kilograms per hectare, the Agriculture Ministry said.
Some 290,000 hectares of corn have yet to be harvested.
The southern Krasnodar Territory produced the largest amount of grain - 11.5 million tonnes, the neighbouring Stavropol Territory harvested 8.3 million tonnes, the Rostov region 7.8 million tonnes, Tatarstan 5.1 million tonnes, and the Altai Territory 4.1 million tonnes.
Zubkov said earlier that Russia can export 20 million tonnes of grain in 2011.
“Today we are exporting to 33 countries: European countries have been added up - Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, all of the Transcaucasian republics, including Georgia and Armenia,” Zubkov said.
He said there are requests from other countries for 7 million tonnes of grain.
Zubkov recalled that by imposing a ban on the export of grain Russia never stopped the export of flour. “About 600,000 tonnes of flour were exported,” he said.
Flour is a product with a 25-30 percent added value, and producers have already felt the benefits of its export.
“We should think about how to stimulate those who export flour in order to increase it,” Zubkov said.
“The situation is favourable for export,” he added.
“Last year was very hard in terms of weather” and “we lost the biggest part of grain, potato and other crops” because of unprecedented summer drought in 40 regions of the country, he said.
The government lifted the ban on the export of grain from July 1. The ban was imposed in August 2010 because of a severe drought in several grain-producing regions. In 2010, the grain gravest was down by 37 percent from the previous year to 60.9 million tonnes.
President Dmitry Medvedev said he would ask the Foreign Ministry to instruct the Russian embassies and trade missions abroad to assist Russian grain companies in making their way to world markets.
Russian Grain Union President Arkady Zlochevsky suggested earlier that Russian embassies and trade missions abroad help move Russian grain to international markets.
Zlochevsky said Russian companies are facing big problems as they are returning to foreign markets.
“We need help: upon return to world market, we encountered tremendous difficulties, the main of which being that competitors have already taken up our place and they did so using political instruments. They have engaged all means - governmental, political, embassies and trade missions - in order to push their products to foreign markets,” he said.
“We ask you to give an order that embassies and trade missions help us regain our place in the sun which we once occupied,” Zlochevsky said, speaking to Medvedev.
He also suggested holding a second World Grain Forum. The first one was held in St. Petersburg in 2009. “There are plans to hold it in the summer of 2012 in St. Petersburg as well,” Zlochevsky said.
Medvedev believes that Russia would be able to boost its grain export potential this year.
“About 20 million tonnes of grain had been harvested by the middle of July, and the weather is quite favourable,” the president said.
“If you keep this pace, we will get the expected 90 million tonnes and even slightly more,” he added.
“We will not only meet our own grain needs this year, but we can also return to the question of boosting Russia's export potential,” the president said.
A crop of over 85 million tonnes would be enough to meet the domestic grain demand and resume grain exports, he said.
Russia had been harvesting about 100 million tonnes of grain in recent years, with domestic consumption staying at around 80 million tonnes.
The country has a substantial export potential on the international grain markets and can continuously export up to 30 million tonnes of grain a year, Zubkov said.
Russia exported 23 million tonnes of grain in 2008 and 20 million tonnes in 2009.