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Drought destroys millions of hectares of Russian crops: govt

Photo courtesy RIA Novosti.
by Staff Writers
Moscow (AFP) July 9, 2010
Drought has destroyed nine million hectares (22 million acres) of crops in Russia and a state of emergency has been declared in 14 regions, a government official said Friday.

Another three regions were also facing serious problems, deputy prime minister Viktor Zubkov added, Interfax reported.

"It's a lot," said Zubkov of the lost production. "We have to ensure that the livestock do not suffer."

Russia has about 80 million hectares of cultivated land, but on Monday the agriculture ministry revised its 2010 forecast for cereal crop yields down to 85 million tonnes from 95 million.

Zubkov nevertheless stressed that there would be no shortage of grain crops for the domestic market as Russia had 24 million tonnes of reserves, which could also be used to help the drough-hit regions.

In 2009, production of cereal crops came to 97 million tonnes.

The situation in Russia has already pushed up the price of grains on the European markets.

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