Russia grain export ban threatens poor countries: FAO
The UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation Friday warned of food security problems in poor countries after Russia halted exports amid a heatwave, saying the global grain price situation was "serious".
Russia's decision "is going to interrupt trade and create instability in the market... a situation which was not serious has now become serious," FAO economist and grain trade expert Abdolreza Abbassian told AFP.
"Of course, if prices go up in poorer countries with low income, it will cause problems" in terms of food security, he said.
Currently the world's number three wheat exporter, Russia has cut its grain harvest forecast by millions of tonnes and temporarily banned exports of wheat after it saw 20 percent of its arable land (10 million hectares, 24.7 million acres) scorched by a heatwave.
"In connection with the unusually high temperatures and the drought, I consider it right to impose a temporary ban on the export from Russia of grain and other products produced from grain," Putin told a government meeting Thursday.
Abbassian said "it was a very quick and unexpected decision" from Russia.
"We need to know how long this situation is going to last and if it will have an impact on the markets. So far, it is too soon to say, we have to wait two or three months.
"We hope prices are not going to remain at such high levels," Abbassian said.
FAO revised down this week its global wheat production forecast for 2010 from 676 million to 651 million tonnes because of "unfavourable weather events on crops in recent weeks," but added in a statement that wheat reserves remained high.
© 2010 AFP