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Russia Must Meet Grain Harvest

February 17, 1999

MOSCOW (AP) _ Russia will have to harvest at least 73-75 million tons of grain this year in order to avoid buying it abroad or requesting food aid again, the agriculture minister said Wednesday.

Viktor Semyonov, the agriculture and food minister, told senior ministry officials that the nation’s annual carryover stock of grain _ the grain stored in silos from year to year _ was expected to be just 1 ton by August, as compared with 20-25 million tons at the same time last year, the Interfax news agency reported.

He warned that the nation would be threatened by serious food shortages if this year’s harvest is below even last year’s 47.8 million tons _ the worst in 40 years. The Agriculture Ministry favors tighter control over the accounting for grain production, he said.

The abysmal harvest in 1998 drove Russia to sign agreements for food aid worth more than $1 billion with the European Union and the United States.

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