3 Aug 2009 17:49

Food prices won't be affected by drought in several Russian regions - Zubkov

MOSCOW. Aug 3 (Interfax) - A drought in many of Russia's main grain producing regions should not lead to price increases for food products in the country, First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov told the Vesti news channel on Monday.

"The grain harvest, which will be higher this year than the average for recent years, in addition to the reserves of the intervention fund will enable us to maintain and stabilize prices on food and develop domestic livestock production. Prices shouldn't rise," he said.

The average grain harvest in the last five years has been about 75 million tonnes. "According to various estimates, we could have 85 million-90 million tonnes this year," he said.

The situation in regions that have been affected by the drought is constantly being monitored, he said. "I am frequently in contact with regional leaders on these issues. An appraisal of possible losses is being made, documents are being drawn up and the government will take measures to help farms that have found themselves in a very difficult situation," he said.

The new United Grain Company being set up by the government will handle the main issues related to the stabilization of the grain market. The company will be in charge of building elevators as well as creating port and other infrastructure.

The Agriculture Ministry estimates that 3.3 million hectares of grain have been destroyed by the drought this year of the 47.9 million hectares planted.