29 May 2011

Russia to lift grain ban

6:06 am on 29 May 2011

Russia is to lift a ban on exporting grain from 1 July.

The ban was put in place in August last year, following an unprecedented drought and a widespread outbreak of wildfires.

Millions of tonnes of crops were lost, cutting national output by some 37%.

The ban was due to expire last December, but was extended over concerns of another shortfall.

The announcement was made by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

Russia is the world's third biggest producer of wheat, barley and rye. The BBC reports the ban contributed to a sharp rise in global wheat prices.

In 2009, Russia exported a quarter of its annual grain output of 97 million tonnes.

But in 2010 it produced only 61 million tonnes. As 80 million was needed for domestic consumption, the government ruled that none could be sent elsewhere.

The official forecast for the 2011 wheat crop is now set at 85 - 90 million tonnes.

First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov said Russia now had some of the world's cheapest grain, at about half those on the world market.