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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Gordeyev Sees Leap in Grain Sales

Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev said Wednesday that Russia is set to boost its grain exports by up to 50 percent and was looking for new markets in north Africa and possibly Canada.

After decades of shortages Russia has a healthy grain surplus, Gordeyev said, adding that poor harvests in major exporting states and booming prices were encouraging exports.

"Our forecast shows that grain exports will rise 40 to 50 percent this year to about 8 million tons," said Gordeyev, who is also a deputy prime minister.

"Because the harvest was weak this year in many exporting countries we could try to enter new markets," he said. Last year Russia exported about 5 million tons of grain.

Gordeyev's comments amount to a slight lowering of expectations after his first deputy, Anatoly Mikhalyov, said last week that grain exports could double this year to 10 million tons.

Gordeyev was speaking to reporters after meeting Lyle Vanclief, the Canadian agriculture minister.

Gordeyev said Russia was well placed to test the Canadian market this year, but Vanclief said the issue was not discussed during the meeting.

"Both ministers declined to confirm comments by Mikhalyov last week that Canada had decided to purchase Russian grain worth 12.6 million Canadian dollars ($8.12 million), a sum analysts say would be equal to 50,000 tons of high quality food wheat.

Gordeyev said there was no doubt Russia would have to find new export markets this year.

"We have plans to explore markets in northern Africa, where Egypt alone imports up to 6 million tons of grain a year," he said.