ORENBURG, August 4 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's grain harvest may total 85 million metric tons in 2009 compared with 108 million metric tons last year, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday.
"We won't have a harvest like last year that was 108 million metric tons. This year, the harvest will total 85 million metric tons, according to estimates," Putin said at a meeting with the farm chiefs in the Orenburg Region in the south Urals.
Putin said the 2009 harvest would be sufficient for the country, although there was unlikely to be any surplus.
Russia's Agriculture Ministry said in mid-July that drought had destroyed about 7% of crops in several major Russian grain-growing regions equal to an area of around 3.2 million hectares.
The worst hit areas were the Orenburg Region and the Republic of Bashkortostan in the Urals, the Samara and Volgograd regions and the Republic of Tatarstan in the Volga area and south Russia's Saratov Region. An emergency regime has been introduced in all the affected regions to try and lessen the damage from the drought.
Meanwhile, Russian Agriculture Minister Elena Skrynnik said that Russia intended to export over 20 million metric tons of grain in 2009.
"We believe that exports will total around 23 million metric tons," Skrynnik said, adding that Russia was willing to keep its leading position among grain exporting countries.
Putin in turn said that Russia was ranked around 4th-5th place among global grain exporters today whereas several years ago the country was forced to import grain.