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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Mass Grain Buys Said Over for Now

MOSCOW -- The Russian government's big grain buying days on world wheat markets are over for now, and maybe for good, an aide to acting Agriculture Minister Alexander Zaveryukha said Friday.

Pyotr Shcherbakov said the Kremlin did not intend seeking grain on international markets in the near future as part of Russia's bid to attain food self-sufficiency. But he did not rule out buys by private firms.

Zaveryukha told the State Duma lower house of parliament Friday that the 1996 harvest could total 100 million tons. But Russia's farm sector is far from normal, with low fertilizer use, poor-quality seed, and rampant inefficiency.

Unofficial government forecasts say total farm output will decline seven percent in 1996, after 10 percent in 1995.

Russia's drought-hit 1995 harvest -- the lowest in 30 years at 63.5 million ton -- spurred speculation that the Kremlin could make a comeback on world wheat markets.