Russia plans to ban sunflower seed exports, impose quota on sunoil

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March 31 (Reuters) – Russia will ban exports of sunflower seeds from Friday until the end of August and impose an export quota on sunflower oil for a similar period to avoid shortages and ease pressure on domestic prices, its agriculture ministry said on Thursday.

Seed exports will be banned from April 1 to Aug. 31 and an export quota of 1.5 million tonnes will be imposed on sunflower oil from April 15 to Aug. 31, the ministry said. There will also be a 700,000-tonne export quota for sunflower meal, it added.

Ukraine and Russia are the world’s largest sunflower oil producers, with India among major customers.

“With sharp growth in global prices for sunflower oil and oilseeds, there is currently increased demand for the Russian product,” Russia’s agriculture ministry said in a statement.

India contracted to buy 45,000 tonnes of Russian sunflower oil at a record high price for shipments in April as edible oil prices in the local market surged after supplies from Ukraine stopped, industry officials told Reuters this week.

The agriculture ministry said last week that Moscow should set up export quotas for sunflower oil to “maintain the stability” of domestic supply. Russia is taking steps to safeguard its food market amid Western sanctions imposed over the Ukraine crisis. 

“This set of measures will eliminate the possibility of shortages, as well as sharp increases in the cost of raw materials and socially important products in Russia,” the ministry said on Thursday.

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