"Agro-superpower" Russia will harvest 118mn tonnes of grain in 2019, minister says

Russia's grain production has risen steadily in recent years and now earns the country some $20bn a year from exports
By bne IntelliNews March 14, 2019

Russia will harvest no less than 118mn tonnes of grain in 2019, including 75–78mn tonnes of wheat, Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev told the PRIME news outlet on March 14.

“Last year the grain harvest exceeded 113mn tonnes, significantly overshooting average annual figures for the past five years. This year we may harvest at least 118mn tonnes of grain, including 75mn-78mn tonnes of wheat,” he said.

The forecast for 118mn tonnes of grain is down on the record 135mn tonnes that Russia brought in in 2018, but still well ahead of the five year average. Grain harvests have been rising steadily in recent years following a massive investment campaign by the state. Russia is now earning some $20bn a year from grain exports – more than it earns from arms exports.

Currently Russia is the world’s top wheat exporter. It is also among the leaders in exports of fish and sunflower oil. It is now a net exporter of poultry and self sufficient in pork and is making headway in covering its own needs in beef.

Combined exports of agricultural products grew 20% to $25.9bn in 2018, almost twice as much as exports of arms and weapons, Patrushev said, making Russia an “agricultural superpower,” added the minister.

“We have an ambitious goal of raising exports of our agricultural industry to $45bn by 2024. Russia has all the necessary capabilities for that today, we have resources, technologies, and mechanisms of state support,” the minister told PRIME.

Agriculture has become a strategic sector for the state. Not only does Moscow want to make Russia independent of imports as a question of national security, Russia is also now earning significant export revenues from the business as it tries to break its dependence on oil and gas exports.

The state agriculture programme includes spending more than RUB300bn ($4.6bn) in 2019. “The federal project for support of agricultural exports encompasses provision of RUB406.8bn ($6.2bn) in the next six years. We also worked out additional measures of state support for small farms, and we will allocate more than RUB37bn on that until 2024,” he said.