Russia faces bln dlr crop losses from drought: official

23rd August 2010, Comments 0 comments

Russia's agriculture industry faces losses of over one billion dollars after a record drought destroyed over a quarter of its crops, an official said Monday.

"The losses amount to about 32.7 billion rubles (1.07 billion dollars)," Deputy Agriculture Minister Alexander Petrikov was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying.

He added that the drought had affected some 16,000 farms, destroying 11 million hectares of crops, which accounted for 26 percent of the total harvest.

Before the heatwave, Russia was one of the world's top wheat exporters but Prime Minister Vladimir Putin announced a ban on foreign grain exports earlier this month as the harvest forecast was slashed.

The export ban, which runs at least to the end of the year, helped drive what prices to multi-year highs, sparking fears that food costs could soar and boost inflation.

This year's harvest is expected to be sharply lower at 60-65 million tonnes of grain compared with 97.1 million tonnes in 2009.

© 2010 AFP

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