The World no.3 ready to import grain
Russia could import grain in the aftermath of last summer's drought to help keep domestic prices low, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Monday.
Global wheat prices skyrocketed in August after Russia, the world's No. 3 grain exporter last year, announced an export ban following the hottest summer on record and a severe drought. Russian officials have since said that they could extend the ban until next July.
Putin said that leaders of grain-exporting nations unaffected by the drought had promised him to reserve surplus grain for Russia.
"If that proves necessary and we see prices growing, we will fulfill those agreements and supply the domestic market with extra volumes of grain," he said in comments posted on the government's Web site.
Putin didn't name specific countries, but the Agriculture Ministry previously mentioned Ukraine and Kazakhstan as possible suppliers.
The drought pushed up consumer prices in Russia, spoiling the government's forecast for low inflation. Prices for cereals soared 42.5 percent in the first 10 months of the year, while bread, which is subsidized, added slightly less than 5 percent, according to the State Statistics Service.
The government earlier promised to sell grain from a state reserve to support prices, but never made good on the pledge. Putin said Monday the government is still looking to sell the grain but has not decided on the timing.