Russia defends crop data reliability

Moscow | Reuters –– Russia’s agriculture ministry defended the reliability of its crop data on Thursday, after a farmers’ lobby said regional officials were pressuring farmers to report bigger grain crops to the ministry than they actually harvested this year.

The ministry said its numbers, compiled by its regional departments which send “operational information” to Moscow daily, were in line with data produced by the state statistics service Rosstat.

“The comparison of data with operational information and statistical reports on gross grain harvest does not show a significant difference in recent years,” the ministry said, in response to a request for comment from Reuters.

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On Tuesday, the Grain Union, a non-governmental farmers’ lobby, said that regional officials were pressuring farmers to inflate the size of their grain crops in reports to the ministry.

Russia, one of the world’s biggest wheat exporters, is officially expected to harvest around 103 million tonnes by clean weight this year, down two million tonnes from a year ago, but still the third-largest grain crop in its post-Soviet history.

Its farmers have already harvested 85.1 million tonnes of grain, before drying and cleaning, from 73 per cent of the total area, according to agriculture ministry data.

Reporting for Reuters by Polina Devitt in Moscow.

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