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MOSCOW: Russia may raise grain exports by 3 million tonnes to 51 million tonnes in the 2021/22 marketing season, which starts on July 1, despite a lower crop, the agriculture ministry said on Friday.

Russia competes with the European Union for the rank of the world's largest wheat exporter. Turkey, Egypt and Bangladesh are the largest buyers of its wheat.

The ministry sees Russia's 2021 grain crop at 127.4 million tonnes, including 81 million tonnes of wheat, it said in a statement. The country harvested 133.5 million tonnes of grain, including 85.9 million tonnes of wheat, in 2020.

Using what is left over from this season's export quota will support the growth in exports. The quota was introduced to help to dampen the country's rising food price inflation and keep domestic grain prices low.

The export quota, which Russia set at 17.5 million tonnes of grain for Feb. 15-June 30, will not be depleted this season, Interfax news agency reported, citing the ministry.

According to Interfax, the ministry plans to set a quota for the second half of each marketing season - from Jan. 1 to June 30 - and to propose that the government buy up to 3 million tonnes from the domestic market for the state stockpile.

Farmers in Russia were sowing their winter grains for this year's crop in dry soil last autumn, though mild winter partly repaired the damage. The spring grain sowing is going well so far with plants already sown on 69% of the planned area. Russia's permanent formula-based tax on grain exports will be launched on June 2 and then updated on a weekly basis.