Drought costs Russia one billion dollars in crop losses

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 Tuesday.

Updated: Aug 24, 2010, 11:59 AM IST

Moscow: 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 Tuesday.

"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 said the drought had destroyed some 11 million
hectares (27 million acres) of crops or 26 percent of the
total harvest.

Before the drought and a blistering 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 wheat prices to multi-year highs, sparking
fears that food costs could soar and boost inflation.
Russia`s harvest is expected to be sharply lower at
60-65 million tonnes of grain compared with 97.1 million
tonnes in 2009.

So far, Russian farmers have harvested 40.7 million
tonnes of grain, a drop of 17.8 million tonnes from the same
time last year, according to the agriculture ministry.
Despite the export ban, consumers are likely to see
some staggering price hikes, such as on buckwheat, a staple in
Russian diets.

PTI