11 Aug 2010 14:44

Russian grain harvest to be 60 mln tonnes at worst, grain to suffice

NOVO-OGAREVO. Aug 11 (Interfax) - Russia's grain harvest will be 60 million tonnes at worst this year, but the country will have enough grain, Agriculture Minister Yelena Skrynnik said at a meeting with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

"The forecast made jointly with the Russian met office is pessimistic, if you like. The best case is 65 million-67 million tonnes and the worst is 60 million tonnes," Skrynnik said.

"But all these measures that are being taken as of today give us hope that we'll have enough grain for our country," she said.

Skrynnik said the harvest was under way in all federal districts except Siberia.

"Around half of the area under grain has been cleared and 40 million tonnes of grains have been brought in," she said. Farmers in the Krasnodar territory in southern Russia are leading the way - they have harvested 500,000 tonnes more than last year. The Stavropol territory is not doing quite as well, but it has still harvested 150,000 tonnes more. The harvest isn't going badly in the North Caucasus either, Skrynnik said.

The situation is more complicated in the central and Volga regions, she said.

The ongoing drought is preventing many farmers from sowing winter grains, and spring sowing next year might have to be increased 30% as a result, Skrynnik said.

"It all depends on the weather. If we don't get any rain by September 5 we'll have to rely on the spring campaign, and increase sowing 30%. We'll need the necessary seeds, fuel, machinery and credit resources," she said, requesting Putin's support in this matter.

"Our efforts have to be concentrated to support our farmers. Our farmers need help and support with winter and spring sowing," Skrynnik said.