UPDATE 1-Russia grain imports to soar in 2010/11-analysts

* Grain imports mainly from Ukraine, Kazakhstan

* Wheat futures rise sharply

(Adds quotes, details, background)

By Aleksandras Budrys

MOSCOW, Aug 19 (BestGrowthStock) – Russian grain imports are likely
to soar after the country’s worst drought in more than a century
damaged its harvest and forced it to ban exports, analysts said
on Thursday.

Analysts estimate that Russia, usually a major grain
exporter, may have to import 1.5-2.2 million tonnes this year
after the worst drought in more than a century damaged its
harvest, but a report in Vedomosti daily said Russia could
import at least 5 million tonnes of grain this year
[ID:nLDE67I0KV]

European milling wheat futures rose sharply in opening trade
on Thursday, lifted by prospects that Russia will have to resort
to hefty imports. [ID:nLDE67I0MI]

“We currently estimate domestic seasonal grain imports at
2.2 million tonnes as a minimal figure,” Dmitry Rylko, director
of the Institute for Agricultural Market Studies (IKAR) told
Reuters.

He expected most of the imports to come from Kazakhstan and
Ukraine, which is also considering curbing exports after its
grain crops were hit by severe frosts and a scorching summer.

Russia, which was a major grain exporter last year,
imported 94,600 tonnes of wheat, 30,700 tonnes of barley and
38,000 tonnes of maize in the 2009 calendar year, according to
customs data. Kazakhstan and Ukraine were the main suppliers.

Andrei Sizov Sr., CEO of SovEcon agricultural analysts, told
Reuters Russian grain imports “may rise to some 1.5 million
tonnes from around 400,000 tonnes this year”.

Kazakhstan’s agriculture ministry said on Thursday it plans
to export 8 million tonnes of grain in the current marketing
year, of which 2 million tonnes would go to Russia, Iran and
other countries. [ID:nLDE67I0MB]

Russia’s deadly heatwave is estimated to have destroyed a
quarter of its grain crop and could shave $14 billion off this
year’s gross domestic product. It has banned grain exports from
Aug 15 until Dec. 31 to curb rising prices. [ID:nLDE6741M9]

Russia’s total grain crop is officially expected to reach
60-65 million tonnes, although some analysts believe it may fall
below 60 million tonnes. The 2009 harvest was 97 million tonnes.
(Additional reporting by Alfred Kueppers; editing by Sue
Thomas)

UPDATE 1-Russia grain imports to soar in 2010/11-analysts