MOSCOW, RUSSIA — Russia’s agricultural ministry said on March 31 that it will sell 1 million tonnes of grain from its state stockpile on the domestic market to ensure supplies and keep prices down amid the coronavirus pandemic, Reuters reported.

The ministry, which has 1.8 million tonnes of grain in the stockpile, mostly in Siberia, said last week it was preparing to tap into it.

“These measures will guarantee the necessary amount of grain for food and feed purposes, reduce grain prices and prevent a spike in consumer prices for food products,” said Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev.

The government has yet to officially approve the agriculture ministry’s recent proposal to limit Russian grain exports to 7 million tonnes from April through June, but the economy ministry on March 30 said it backed the idea. 

Russia, the world’s biggest wheat exporter, said it wanted to limit exports to ensure domestic food security in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Russia exported 25.2 million tonnes of wheat, rye, barley and corn in the first six months of the 2019-20 season, Reuters said, and shipped 7.2 million tonnes between the start of 2020 and March 26.

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