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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russian Officials Predict Bumper Grain Yields

Russia said Friday it would have a bigger harvest and grain to export this year, signaling some recovery in its troubled agricultural sector.

Agriculture Minister Viktor Khlystun said the harvest was finally breaking out of a two-year cycle of disaster.

But Russia would also import grain, he said.

"We have a real chance to show our competitiveness," Khlystun told a news conference, adding that Russia's export potential was in rye, barley and sunflower seeds and also wheat.

Khlystun said Russia's grain harvest would recover to between 77 million and 79 million net tons this year from 1996's 69.3 million tons, which was the second poor showing in a row and one of the worst on record in three decades.

The bigger haul means Russia would be able to export 4 million tons of wheat used for bread-making and 6 million tons of fodder. Russia's total grain export potential in coming years would hold to those levels.

But he said regional imbalances meant private traders would import between 3.5 million and 4.0 million tons of grains this year.

He said grain quality in some regions was much better this year. But trade sources say such optimism, meant to bolster the morale of farmers who are lagging in bringing in crops due to wet weather and late sowing, may be misplaced.

"Quality is a problem this year," said Andrei Sizov of the SovEcon Ltd. consultancy.