22 July 1997
Russian optimism for better grain harvest
Russia is optimistic that it will have a better grain harvest this
year. Forecasts have now risen to 80m tonnes for the current year, as
against 70m tonnes for 1996.
Good weather and early spring sowing have contributed to the
optimism, in spite of an 8% drop in the overall sowing area. Yields per
hectare have risen from 0.22 tonnes to 2.72 tonnes, according to Russian
agricultural ministry officials. Loans by the government totally Rbs500m
($87m) to help farmers buy fuel, fertlisers, pesticides and machinery
spares have also helped.
Grain analysts say the improved harvest will have little impact on
world prices. Russia was at one time buying as much as 8m tonnes a month
on the world market but now buys little.