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Russia May Have to Speed Grain Imports, SovEcon Says

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Dec. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Russia may be forced to expedite grain imports and sales from state stockpiles to ease “tight” supply in drought-hit regions, SovEcon said.

“Massive imports as well as intervention sales may ease the tension,” the Moscow-based researcher said on its website today. The government may be forced to start sales from 9.64 million metric-ton stockpiles earlier than planned, SovEcon said. Sales could begin in March, according to the country’s Agriculture Ministry.

Russia, which lost 38 percent of its grain crop in this year’s drought and banned exports through July 1, is facing difficulties delivering surplus grain from seven regions in the south and Siberia to the drought-hit areas, SovEcon said. Feed-grain supply is “particularly” tight, and the fodder is frequently being substituted by milling wheat, the researcher said.

Growers in Siberia are raising grain prices on limited supply and ahead of permission on flour exports from Jan. 1, SovEcon said. Deliveries from three southern regions to drought-hit regions in central Russia and along the Volga River are “logistically challenged” and further complicated by the risk of spreading African swine fever, it said.

Russia has asked several countries to reserve grain for possible deliveries, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Nov. 29. Russia may need to import as much as 5 million tons, mostly for feeding cattle, according to an estimate by the Grain Producers’ Union.

To contact the reporters on this story: Maria Kolesnikova in Moscow at mkolesnikova@bloomberg.net,

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Carpenter at ccarpenter@bloomberg.net.

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