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Russia's agriculture ministry said on Thursday it expected domestic grain prices to stabilise in the near future and did not foresee any drop in the country's supply of flour. As the coronavirus pandemic spread, Russia's neighbour, Kazakhstan this week suspended wheat flour exports, although there are talks on a partial lifting of the ban.
Russian flour millers are positive about their production capacity, the agriculture ministry said in a statement. The Russian union of flour millers said that it had asked the ministry "to take measures to eliminate the imbalance in the formation of prices for wheat and flour" in the domestic market.
Millers are finding it difficult to cope with rising domestic wheat prices and only have stockpile available for two to three weeks, the union added on its website. Russia, the world's largest wheat exporter, has seen a jump in the rouble prices for grain in recent weeks as the Russian currency fell against the dollar.
Further growth in grain prices is unlikely as domestic supply is expected to rise as farmers will be selling stockpiles ahead of the arrival of this summer's crop, the ministry said. Russia had 32.6 million tonnes of grain in the stockpile as of February, up 4.5% from a year ago.
The Russian government asked the agriculture ministry this week to prepare proposals on whether exports of any food, essential products or medicine should be limited. These proposals were due to be ready by March 25, but the ministry has yet to make its decision public.
"Taking into account the current economic situation in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, the Ministry is preparing proposals aimed at maintaining stability in the domestic food market and ensuring Russia's food security," it said.

Copyright Reuters, 2020

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