GIAGINSKAYA VILLAGE, September 22. /TASS/. Grain prices may grow in view of low harvest in the United States and Canada this year, Russian Minister of Agriculture Alexander Tkachev said on Friday.
"I would like to inform colleagues that the United States and Canada will have 20% smaller harvest this year and we understand the grain price may hike because of objective criteria," Tkachev said at the meeting chaired by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
"The start of harvesting was delayed, particularly due to the weather. We harvested 80% [of grain] to date, totaling 110 mln tonnes. We can probably reach 116-117 mln tonnes of grain. This figure is real," Tkachev said.
Agricultural producers "started preparations of the base for new harvest," Tkachev noted. Sowing of winter crops is almost 50% completed, he said.
Milling wheat accounted for 75% of wheat harvest this year, up 7% on an annualized basis, the minister said. At the same time, the share of milling wheat is above 90% in the EU and the United States, Tkachev said. "We should also endeavor to attain such a goal but quality, fertility and yield require improvement. Then we will be able to have stable harvests of good quality," the minister added.
Exports and deep processing should be developed for the purpose of reducing grain surplus on the domestic market, the minister said. Grain harvests will grow in the long term and new lands are brought into agricultural turnover, Tkachev said.
"If we proceed at such pace, we forecast grain harvest will be about 150 mln tonnes by 2030. New infrastructure should be built in the South, in the Baikal Region and in the Far East in order to sell 70 mln tonnes instead of 40 mln tonnes," the minister noted.
Production of gluten, food additives and biofuel should be increased in terms of deep processing of grain, Tkachev said.
Russia will fully cover its grain and other crops demands as of the end of 2017 harvesting campaign and will also perform all export contractual commitments, Medvedev said.
"Results are good regarding the harvest of nearly all agricultural crops. Over 117 mln tonnes of grain have already been threshed. I would prefer not to make other forecasts so far but we will obviously satisfy internal needs and perform export contracts," Medvedev said.
The harvesting campaign is still underway in certain Russian regions, the prime minister said. Field work timeframe had to be postponed due to rains in central Russia, Medvedev said. "Nevertheless, it is clear the agricultural sector keeps steady growth in 2017 also," he added.