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

Video Russia’s Syrian Escalation Tests Obama’s Crisis Response

Critics once again question whether president has been slow to act on Syrian conflict, thus creating opening for powers like Russia More

Ancient African DNA Shows Mass Migration Back Into Africa

First genetic analysis of ancient human remains in Africa suggests massive migration from north around time of Egyptian empire More

NASA: Pluto Has Blue Sky

New photos also reveal the presence of water ice More

This forum has been closed.
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.
Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugeesi
Henry Ridgwell
October 08, 2015 8:02 PM
Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

VOA Blogs