Russia may up 2014 grain crop forecast due to Crimea

MOSCOW (Reuters) — Russia may raise its 2014 grain crop forecast by two million tonnes to 97 million tonnes thanks to the harvest in Crimea, the Ukrainian region annexed by Moscow, RIA news agency reported, citing Agriculture Minister Nikolai Fyodorov.

“We target a grain production increase to 95 million tonnes this year,” the agency quoted Fyodorov as saying.

“We have made these estimates without taking into account the potential of the Crimean republic, which could produce a crop of two million tonnes if conditions are favourable.”

As of now, the official 2014 grain crop forecast of 95 million tonnes and 2013-14 grain exports estimate of 22 million tonnes remain unchanged, Fyodorov told a government meeting on Thursday.

Russia, one of the world’s key wheat suppliers, exported 19.8 million tonnes of grains, including 14.6 million tonnes of wheat and 2.9 million tonnes of corn, between the start of the 2013-14 marketing year on July 1 and March 19.

The United States and the European Union have called the takeover of Crimea illegal, and imposed asset freezes and visa bans on selected Russian and Crimean officials.

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