Russia, one of the world’s top grain producers, is using export restrictions to boost its reserves, the chairman of the country’s grain union said Monday.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and Western sanctions have disrupted supplies of wheat and other commodities from the two countries, raising concerns about the risk of hunger around the world.
Russia and Ukraine produce about one-third of the world’s wheat supply.
“Our stock is about 20 percent higher than last year … Instead of supplying to the world market, we are replenishing our own stock,” Arkady Zlochevsky told a news conference.
He said Russia would export 36 million tonnes of wheat before June 30, which is about 4 million tonnes less than its full export potential.
“All the hysteria about the impending famine is actually only helping to raise prices. It’s not the best game and it could end badly,” Mr Zlochevsky said.
“When the hysteria ends … the price will just crash,” he said.
The Russian government indicated that this season’s crop could break a historic record, but Mr Zlochevsky said the crop could be closer to 120 million tonnes of grain (including 80 million tonnes of wheat) than the Ministry of Agriculture’s 130 million forecast.
Mr Zlochevsky said only a “very small amount” of Russian wheat was destined for EU countries and that Moscow’s delivery transited not through Europe but through the Middle East.
“We have very strong transit flows through Turkey and Iran … and they remain,” he said, adding that Iran has become the second largest buyer after Turkey this season, surpassing Egypt, which has been a major buyer of Russian wheat for many years.
Westerners have accused the Kremlin of using foodstuffs as weapons during their military operations in Ukraine and of stealing Ukrainian grain from Russian-controlled territory.
Russia has denied the allegations in a statement issued Friday stating “Similar, baseless allegations concerning Russia’s intelligence have been made more than once.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)