MOSCOW (B)--Russia's Agriculture Ministry said Sept. 26 that the 2000 grain production is expected to touch 64.7 million tonnes in pure weight, up 18.3% on year. A ministry official said, due to favorable weather conditions, the actual production could touch 70 million tonnes. The total cultivated area decreased this year to 46.3 million hectares, down from 50.7 million in 1999. But crops in 1.8 million hectares were damaged compared with over 7 million.

The final grain output forecast for this year was announced at the ministry's board meeting, where a draft program aimed at the development of the grain-farming sector was discussed.

"Thus the planted area, where the crops were in good condition, actually increased on year," the official told BridgeNews.

By Sept. 25, farmers harvested 63.1 million tonnes of grain in bunker weight, which is about 25% more than the corresponding period last year, the official said.

The campaign was expected to be complete by Oct. 5.

Russia's major commercial grain trader, OGO, said the actual harvest, including the non-reported stocks, should touch 67 million to 70 million tonnes.

OGO expects grain imports to fall over 50% in the 2000-01 marketing year to about 3 million tonnes, primarily in feed varieties.

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