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    GOVERNMENT SEEKS TO INCREASE GRAIN OUTPUT

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    MOSCOW, February 12th, 2004 (RIA Novosti correspondent Alla Isayeva) -- The Russian government approved a set of measures at its session on Thursday to raise grain output in the country. Deputy Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev said this to reporters on Thursday after a government session.

    He noted that this year Russia was to carry out spring sowing on the area of 53 million hectares. The government is to concentrate its efforts on grain and beans output, because this sector provides for 80% of the entire agricultural production, said Gordeyev.

    The government also attached importance to preserving the country's export potential. "In the past three years, we have had a stable niche on the world market, and the presence of Russian grain there is an important economic and political factor," said the deputy prime minister.

    The complex of measures considered by the government also provides for extending cultivation areas. This year, areas under cultivation are to be extended by one million hectares.

    At the same time, the minister said, the current level of cultivation areas corresponds to Russia's technological and climatic conditions.

    He also said that by now 40-50% of permanently loss-making economies had been involved in the programme of financial restoration, and hopefully, they will regain financial stability and avoid bankruptcy.

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