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Russia expects its best grain harvest in 16 years
Russia expects its best grain harvest in 16 years this year and is planning to develop eastern export markets, the country's agriculture minister said on Monday.

Speaking to parliament's upper house, Alexei Gordeyev said that this year was witnessing the largest grain harvest since 1992, with the 2008 crop expected to exceed 100 million metric tons in net weight.

"Domestic demand for food grain and animal feed will be completely met as a result, and possible exports are estimated at 20 million tons," the minister said.

He said there were good prospects for exporting grain to China, although he noted that Russia was not yet on China's imports list, traditionally dominated by the United States, Canada and Australia.

The minister said China imports around 6 million tons of grain annually.

"We are planning to develop the eastern direction in grain exports," Gordeyev said, adding that this could lead to Siberia using fallow lands to increase its output.

According to Russia's Federal State Statistics Service, Russia exported almost 17 million tons of grain in 2007, 49.5% more than in the previous year.

Gordeyev said that Russia's agricultural output increased 6.5% over the first nine months of 2008, seeing a 9% increase for crops and 4% for livestock.


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