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Putin Reduces Wheat Harvest Forecast Due To Russia Drought

"We need to take measures..."
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin today cut the country's grain harvest forecast down to 60 to 65 million tons, a full 10 million tons less than planned, as the country continues to struggle with a record drought.

Russia, the world's third-largest wheat producer last year, has so far lost 10 million hectares of land due to drought compounded by widespread wildfires.

Russia's top meteorological official, Aleksandr Frolov, told reporters in Moscow today that the country is bent on conserving its wheat and sugar beets this year.

"RosGidroMet [Russia's state meteorological agency] has issued an updated [grain] harvest forecast of 67 to 70 million tons, which is considerably less than last year's 97 million tons," he said. "Also, because of the continuing drought, our potato and sugar beet harvest forecasts are also about 30 to 35 percent lower [than last year].

"Most importantly now, we need to take measures to prepare enough fodder so we can preserve our livestock."

Putin announced last week that starting August 15 the country will ban wheat exports in an effort to keep domestic prices down. The ban is expected to last until a December 31 review.

Government supplies, Putin said, should be able to cover the shortage.

compiled from agency reports