Russian grain exports this year may exceed the official forecast of 20 million tons, First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov said on Tuesday.
"We do not believe that 20 million tons is the limit," Zubkov told a government meeting, adding that Russia has so far harvested 74.1 million tons of grain, two percent more than on the same date in 2009, when Russia had a bumper crop.
The harvest is on track to meet the government's 2011 forecast of 90 million tons, enough to meet domestic needs and restore Russia's grain export potential, which suffered from a nearly year-long export ban.
The government imposed the ban in August 2010 when drought and a relentless heat wave destroyed more than a third of the crop.
Since the ban was lifted on July 1, Russia has exported over 7.2 million tons of grain and plans to export another three million tons every month for the rest of the year, Zubkov said. Market analysts forecast Russian grain exports to total 20-23.5 million tons in the 2011/2012 agricultural year compared to 4 million tons in 2010/2011.
Zubkov also urged the Agriculture and Transport ministries to tackle infrastructure shortcomings, which have constrained export shipments.