MOSCOW, Aug. 10 (UPI) -- A pervasive drought hammering parts of Russian means grain production will fall 38 percent in 2010 compared with the previous year, the prime minister said.
The worst heat wave in recorded history in Russia has caused a drought that is complicated by raging fires in parts of the country. The extreme weather has wiped out about 20 percent of the food crops in Russia.
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said the grain harvest for 2010 may drop to around 60 million tons, which is about 38 percent less than the previous year.
"According to the latest Agriculture Ministry forecasts, the harvest will be much more modest than we assumed at the beginning of the year," he was quoted by state-run news agency RIA Novosti as saying. "It could total 65 (million) or even 60 million tons."
The Agriculture Ministry said last week it was cutting its grain forecast for 2010 from 90 million tons to less than 75 million tons.
Putin last week said his country would pull back on grain exports to preserve domestic supplies.
"We cannot yet expect a quick lifting of the export ban," he added. The export ban starts Sunday and lasts through the end of the year.
The International Food Policy Research Institute said in a report that U.S. and Canadian grain stores could make up for any food shortages.
Global grain supplies, the report suggested, are adequate and "some" participants in the market are "overreacting to the events in Russia."
Moscow has declared a state of emergency in parts of the country as the drought claims 10.7 million hectares of agricultural crops.