Medvedev: Government to supervise food-staple pricing

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced via Twitter on Thursday that, in response to the country's "difficult summer," the government would take charge of pricing for food staples. 

The announcement followed a meeting in which Medvedev discussed his outlook for Russian agriculture amid an unprecedented summer drought.

The bad conditions have ruined an estimated 25 percent of Russian crops and may prevent the sowing of winter wheat.

Medvedev, who created his Twitter account June 23, said: 

Considering the difficult summer, we will closely monitor food prices to prevent them from skyrocketing.

We have all the necessary tools to prevent unreasonable increases in food prices.

The government will be in charge of the daily monitoring and supervision of pricing policy for staples, like flour, bread and milk.

Russia's meteorological service has predicted a 30 percent drop in harvest crop yield because of bad conditions.

The government's decision to monitor food pricing comes after a Feb. 1 executive order in which Medvedev endorsed a "food security" doctrine for Russia, designating that 80 percent of basic food products in Russian markets be produced domestically by 2020.

The policy also outlines quotas for the production of major food commodities like sugar, meat, milk and potatoes. Russian Agriculture Minister Yelena Skrynnik had announced only a few days before that the country's supply of grain had already met the doctrine's requirement.

Some observers, amid drought conditions, were recently quoted as optimistic about the country's grain production.

"This year, the country cultivated 48 million hectares of wheat fields, out of which about 9 million hectares dried up. Therefore, there is no truth in the rumor that Russia will suffer acute shortages in grain this year," Arkady Zlochevsky, the president of the Russian Grain Union, said in July.

The union has recently lobbied the Russian government to delay the imposition of a temporary embargo on grain exports.

Russia currently holds a record reserve of about 24 million tons of grains, according to July figures, with about 9.5 million tons controlled by the government, Zlochevsky explained.

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