MOSCOW. Oct 9 (Interfax) - Russia's Agriculture Ministry has raised its 2009 forecast for the Russian grain harvest to 93 million tonnes.
"Despite a drought, the grain harvest this year will come to 90 million tonnes, but possibly up to 93 million tonnes, which is higher than the average annual results for the last ten years," Agriculture Minister Yelena Skrynnik said on Friday at the agro-forum "APK Russia - A base to take the country out of the crisis".
She said that that the harvest would allow Russia to meet domestic demand for grain, which is estimated at 77 million while having an export potential with 19 million tonnes. "This will allow [us] to hold a firm position among the top-3 wheat exporters on the world market."
She also said that in order to unite the interests of domestic grain producers in Russia, a National Union of Grain Producers was being formed. The union's focus will be on finding practical solutions in the sector.
Skrynnik added that 183 billion rubles from the federal budget would be going this year to agricultural development, a 30% increase in comparison with 2008.
Additional support in the form of a united agro-holding, as well as fixed prices on fuels and mineral fertilizers estimated at 30 billion rubles. The sector's loan portfolio in the first eight months of 2009 comes to 486 billion rubles, which creates the preconditions for stable development, Skrynnik said.