News / Europe

Russia's Ban on Grain Exports Takes Effect as Wildfires Rage

A Russian ban on grain exports took effect Sunday as at least 500 fires raged across the country.  Moscow put a halt to the exports because of low yields caused by the wildfires, record heat and drought.  

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's ban on grain exports took effect Sunday, and it is expected to continue through the end of the year.  The banned items include wheat, wheat flour, rye and corn, among other things.

The Kremlin says the move is part of the government's attempt to keep down the prices of basic foodstuffs amid the country's worst drought on record.  Some analysts say the ban is also an attempt by the government to quell the possibility of domestic unrest because of soaring prices.

Last year, Russia was the world's third largest wheat producer with a harvest of nearly 100 million tons.  But this year that number is expected to be about 25 percent lower.

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev says about one quarter of the country's crops have dried up due to the drought, leaving many farmers are on the verge of bankruptcy.

Mr. Medvedev spoke this week about the severity of the problem.

Mr. Medvedev says now our greatest task is to help those who have been affected by the fires, to return to a normal life as soon as possible.  He says the state is aware of their responsibilities and that those affected by the fires will get compensation for their loss.

The ban led to a more than 50 jump in wheat prices on the global markets Friday.  Some economists worry the ban may also increase the price of other foodstuffs.

Karen Ward, a senior global economist with HSBC bank, addressed the issue during an interview on Russia's state-run english television channel, Russia Today.

"The danger is that financial markets start to anticipate price rises for other commodities and that actually causes a more general food price spike," Ward said.

Prime Minister Putin shrugged off any possible controversy surrounding the ban, saying the Kremlin may extend it beyond this year if the harvest is bad.  

Meanwhile, as the heat continues, Russian emergency ministry officials say they have reduced the number of fires burning across the country by about a quarter to around 500.  Despite the news, many environmentalists say they are worried about several blazes near the country's top nuclear research facility in Sarov.  Officials admit that they haven not been able to get the fires under control, but that there is no danger to the general public.

Additionally, nearly 30 fires continue in the outskirts of Moscow.  As a result, the acrid smoke and smog that enveloped the capital, off and on this week, has returned forcing many to wear face masks outdoors.

Forecasters say they expect temperatures to hover in the mid-30's Celsius for at least several more days.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More