Sanctions-hit Russia stockpiling grain: producers

AFP , Tuesday 31 May 2022

Russia, one of the world's top grain producers, is using export disruptions caused by sanctions to boost its reserves, the chairman of the country's grain union said Monday.

Russian Grain Union president Arkady Zlochevsky talks during a press conference in Moscow on May 30, 2022.


Russia's offensive in Ukraine and Western sanctions have disrupted deliveries of wheat and other commodities from the two countries, fuelling concerns about the risk of hunger around the world.

Russia and Ukraine produce around a third of the global wheat supply.

"Our stocks are nearly 20 percent higher than last year... Instead of supplying the world market, we are replenishing our own stocks," Arkady Zlochevsky told a press conference.

He said Russia will have exported 36 million tonnes of wheat before June 30, about four million tonnes below its full export potential.

"All the information hysteria about the upcoming famine is actually only helping to drive up prices. It's not the best game and it can end badly," Zlochevsky said.

"When the hysteria is over... prices will simply crash," he said.

The Russian government had hinted that this season's harvest could break a historic record, but Zlochevsky said the harvest could be closer to 120 million tonnes of grain (including 80 million tonnes of wheat) rather than the 130 million forecast by the agriculture ministry.

Zlochevsky said that only a "very small volume" of Russian wheat is destined for EU countries and Moscow's deliveries do not transit via Europe but rather through the Middle East.

"We have very strong transit flows through Turkey and Iran... and they remain," he said, adding that Iran this season became the second-largest buyer after Turkey, surpassing Egypt that for many years was a leading buyer of Russian wheat.

The West has accused the Kremlin of using food commodities as a weapon during its military operation in Ukraine and of stealing Ukrainian grain from Russia-controlled territories.

Russia has denied these claims, saying it would create export corridors in Ukraine and help avoid a global food crisis if international sanctions imposed on Moscow were removed.

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