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Last Updated:[08-06-2009 08:45:08 EDT] Zoom in Zoom out Back to Tradenews

Russia Proposes Grain Triangular Union with Ukraine and Kazakhstan

tradenews At the recently concluded World Grain Forum, Russia showcased a model which is expected to help the grain producers of Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan to counter price volatility of the world grain market. The Russian Agriculture Minister Yelena Skrynnik presented the proposal, the brainchild of the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in the forum that was attended by representatives and agriculture ministers from several countries including Russia, Brazil, Germany, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan.

The proposal broadly aims at managing grain reserves and prices; and also to improve necessary infrastructure including developing rail network and port capacity through creation of a pool. The Ukrainian Agriculture Policy Minister Yuriy Melnik and the Kazakh Deputy Agriculture Minister Arman Yevniyev welcomed Russia’s proposal during the first such forum.

The US has already come out with a statement saying a cartel in the line of OPEC would only delay Russia’s decade-old ambition of joining the 153-member WTO. Michael Michener from the US Department of Agriculture said Russia the third largest wheat exporter was jeopardizing its chances of becoming the WTO member since such a formation is against the WTO guidelines.

Russia is planning to bring more land under grain cultivation in the coming years as they have 10 percent of world’s arable land that has turned fallow after the collapse of the former Soviet Union. Russia has millions of hectares of chernozem (black earth), an ideal soil for agricultural purposes which are formed by partially decomposed organic matter.

If the new grain union takes shape, it would become the largest exporter and producer of global grain market. In the next 10 to 15 years, Russia plans to produce up to 135mn tons of wheat annually and export 40 to 50mn tons of it, Skrynnik later added. Last year’s bumper harvest made Russia the fourth largest grain producer in the world.

While food prices skyrocketed, Medvedev first proposed such an idea last July to augment food security. It should be noted that a report from London-based think-tank Chatham House early this year stated the climate change, water scarcity and competition for land would make it hard to meet an expected 50 percent rise in demand for food by 2030. Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov told that some of Russia’s 9.6mn tons of grain stockpiles would be set aside to provide humanitarian aid through the UN World Food Program to countries facing starvation as the fallout of global economic crises.

By Jose Roy

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