Russian grain harvest to top 85MMT, no need for export duty - Ag Minister

Russia's 2008 grain harvest will amount to at least 85 million tonnes, Russian Agriculture Minister Gordeyev told a news conference at Interfax on May 28.

The food grain harvest will amount to 40 million tonnes, he said

"The Agriculture Ministry is fairly confident the harvest will amount to no less than 85 million tonnes, which is 3 million tonnes more than in 2007. The harvest of food grain will also rise substantially. It will total roughly 40 million tonnes," Gordeyev said.

The wheat harvest will total 48 million-50 million tonnes, of which food wheat will amount to about 40 million tonnes, he noted.

Currently 15.3 million hectares are sown with the winter grain crop, which is 2 million hectares more than last year. "Of course that in itself holds the promise of a good harvest in the current year," he said.

The Agriculture Ministry does not think there is a need to continue the grain export duty after July 1, Gordeyev.

"Given that we expect a good harvest, and this is already apparent, we see no need to introduce restrictions on grain export starting on July 1," Gordeyev said.

"The situation on the market will show what further actions are needed," the minister said.

Gordeyev added that Russia's grain reserve level was high and prices were decreasing, which would mean there is no need to continue with the export duty. "I would pay attention firstly to [the fact] we still have a decent supply of grain in the country. As of July 1, we forecast that grain reserves will come to 11.5 million tonnes, which is an increase from the previous year of 1 million tonnes," he said.

"Secondly: the peak price mark for foodstuffs grain has already passed - 9,500 rubles per tonne in mid-April of this year. Now prices are shrinking, having fallen by 1,000 rubles to a current 8,500 rubles.

Our prognosis: in July the price should finally stabilize and come to around 6,000 rubles per tonne," Gordeyev said.