Russia may extend grain export ban to end of year: minister
Russia may extend a ban on grain exports that has been blamed for triggering global food price rises until the end of the year, First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov said on Wednesday.
"At the moment, the government is of the opinion that it will not reopen exports until the end of the year," Zubkov was quoted as saying by the RIA Novosti news agency.
Last week, Agriculture Minister Yelena Skrynnik said that the embargo would run at least until October when it would be possible to see the size of the harvest.
After an unprecedented heatwave and drought in 2010, Russia in August banned grain exports, with its harvest dwindling from a predicted 95 million tons to 60 million tons.
The export ban, due initially to last until December 2010, was later extended to mid-2011, driving up wheat prices, since Russia is the world's third largest exporter.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said recently that Russia had sown 20 percent less grain than predicted this winter because of unfavourable weather and would need to substantially increase its sowing area in the spring.
© 2011 AFP