It is not just wildfires that have destroyed Russia’s crops, a unprecedented drought has ravaged the country’s farming heartland.
The coffee-black soil has barely seen any rainfall this year, destroying almost a fifth of the potential harvest and putting in jeopardy winter sowing that is due to start this month.
Farmers say Moscow must step in.
The Chairman of New Path Collective Farm, Alexander Kolotev said: “The prime minister has promised to help us survive the drought and we hope this aid will reach farmers and not end up somewhere else as usual.”
The consequences of this year’s reduced harvest will also be felt at a global level, particularly with wheat, Russia’s biggest cereal crop. Supplying 8 percent of the world’s wheat, last year Russia was the planet’s third largest exporter. This year, the yield is expected to be nowhere near as big.
Grain analyst Andrei Sizov said: “The harvest will not be as large in volume, that’s clear to everyone already, there will be a serious dip in production. Last year 97 million tonnes was harvested, but this year there will be 25 million tonnes less”.
So severe has the drought been, the Russian Grain Union has cut its forecast to between 72 and 78 million tonnes, compared to nearly 100 million tonnes last year and the bumper harvest of nearly 110 million in 2008.
Some analysts are predicting Russia’s exports will drop by a massive 50 percent.
Fears that have already transferred themselves to the international markets. The price of wheat has soared, reaching its highest level in two years earlier this week. But Russia is not the only country to feel the heat, Ukraine said it expects exports to be reduced. Nevertheless, despite concern a shortage could force up food prices, many experts say global wheat stocks remain high, after two years of unprecedented global production.