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Russia eyes 2035 grain crop boom with $70bn investment plan

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Russia’s agriculture ministry said on Tuesday it saw the country’s grain crop rising as high as 150.3m tonnes by 2035 in an "optimistic scenario" as it outlined a draft strategy to invest billions of dollars in grain infrastructure and logistics.

 

The 2035 strategy, which has been sent to the government for discussion, would cost more than 4.4tn roubles ($70bn) in funds drawn from private investors, loans and government financing, the ministry said in a statement.

 

The proposal to ramp up investment in the sector comes as state-controlled VTB, Russia’s second-largest bank, has been buying grain export infrastructure assets.

 

Putin’s plan

 

Russian grain supplies could play a key role in President Vladimir Putin’s plan, announced a year ago, to increase the country’s exports of agricultural products to $45bn by 2024. The Agriculture Ministry is in charge of that initiative.

 

Russia, the world’s largest wheat exporter, would produce 140m tonnes of grain annually by 2035 in the draft strategy’s base-case scenario, while exporting 55.9m tonnes, the ministry said.

 

In an optimistic scenario, the crop could rise to 150.3m tonnes with exports totalling 63.6m tonnes, it said, considerably higher than forecasts for this year.

 

This year, the grain crop will total 118m tonnes with exports for the 2019-20 marketing season at 45m tonnes, according to the ministry.

 

The strategy prioritizes increasing grain production, improving its quality, increasing domestic demand and developing infrastructure and logistics, the ministry said.

 

The plan proposed increasing the capacity of port elevators, transloading and other infrastructure facilities, while raising grain storage capacity to 167.4m tonnes by 2035 from 156.9m tonnes now.

 

Cut infrastructure costs

 

The combined measures should allow infrastructure costs on the price of grain to fall 10% by 2035, the ministry said.

 

VTB owns stakes in two grain export terminals in the Black Sea port of Novorossiisk and has said it is in talks to buy a stake in another terminal in the Black Sea port of Taman.

 

Other big names in Russian grain trading include Russian firm RIF and global trade giant Glencore, as well as Aston.

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